I was not expecting a tight defensive, scoreless first period nor a 1-1 tie with 5.2 seconds remaining when I walked into the Androscoggin Bank Colisee last night. This is not the first Lewiston Maineiacs game I've attended but I think like most people I still have a perception about the style and quality of play in the QMJHL. That perception was permanently dispelled last night. The quality of play, especially defensively and between the pipes, was at a level nearly rivaling the AHL.
Now these are still just kids and sometimes the play does get sloppy and the stick handling is probably the most noticeable aspect of play that's not polished but at least in this game last night you could easily forget what level of professional hockey you were actually watching.
My intent with this piece is not to write a review of the game (for that you can go here) but to attempt to help promote a league and a team that deserves more attention. Where else can you pay $15.50 to sit in the seventh row of a professional hockey playoff game, pay three bucks for parking and get out of the parking lot in under 10 minutes? If you combine those things with the quality of play and fervor of the 1,500 plus fans in attendance, I call that value. Now 1,500 is a disappointing number for a second round playoff game, especially being the first home game of the series and where going in the series was tied 1-1; but this is a very small market and the only U.S. team in a Canadian league full of Canadian players. Once you're in your seat and play has started, you don't remember any of those things, just that the quality of play and atmosphere in the building are high. So if you're looking for something to do tonight or Sunday, get over to the arena and enjoy yourself.
Back to the game briefly: The Maineiacs mascot, Lewey, put the puck in the net during intermission as he was demonstrating to a fan selected from the crowd how you go about winning a car shooting at a tiny hole from the opposite blue line. The gentleman seated next to me said that wasn't the first time Lewey had done that. I would like more beer choices than Bud, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. Four bucks isn't a bad price but for someone like me who wants something better tasting than beer-flavored soda, it was a little disappointing. From my seat in the seventh row half way between the blue line and the opposing net, you couldn't have had a better view of the game-winning goal by Lewiston's Etienne Brodeur with 5.2 seconds remaining. I could clearly see the puck, Brodeur, the opposing netminder and the opening top shelf, glove side; and that's exactly where I saw Brodeur put it. Finally, while the shots on goal favored Montreal, in this viewer's opinion Lewiston played the better game and deserved the win.