Giants rise above Bernier

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- As the Memorial Cup tournament goes on, it's becoming more evident how the Lewiston Maineiacs won 16 of 17 playoff games en route to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League title.

They had Jonathan Bernier in net.

Yesterday the Maineiacs goaltender nearly beat the Vancouver Giants on his own, making 31 saves in a 2-1 loss. Without Bernier the Maineiacs would have been blown out of the Pacific Coliseum to the delight of the 13,734 fans in attendance - a new Memorial Cup record.

"We know Bernier is an outstanding goalie," said Giants head coach Don Hay. "When you're a first-round pick that tells you something. But our goal was to try to outwork him.

"We kept going at him, putting pucks to the net, putting people to the net."

MCARDLE BREAKTHROUGH

Kenndal McArdle eventually broke through and scored the Giants' first goal of the game 8:52 into the third.

The Giants forward jumped on a loose puck in the slot and snapped it past Bernier on the power play.

Just under six minutes later Wacey Rabbit scored the winner, finishing off a mad scramble in front.

"It's important not to get frustrated when you're up against a hot goaltender," Rabbit said.

"You have to keep an upbeat attitude and you can't get mad at the goalie, that's his job to outwork you. The key is to try and outwork him."

Bernier, 18, the Los Angeles Kings first pick - 11th overall - in last June's draft, was outstanding from the onset.

He robbed Spencer Machacek in the first period sliding over to get a piece of a cross-crease pass. Then later in the period he stoned Michal Repik on a short-handed breakaway.

"Every game no matter if we're playing good or bad he'll keep us in it," said Maineiacs defenceman Tom Michalik.

"It's good to have that reassurance out there. But they really battled hard all game and finally they scored one, got the momentum from that and it kept building and building."

David Perron opened the scoring in the first period for the Maineiacs, tipping a shot past Giants goaltender Tyson Sexsmith in front.

However after that, scoring chances for the Maineiacs came few and far between.

The Giants, meanwhile, kept up the pressure despite repeatedly being turned away by Bernier, who earned first-star honours for the second-consecutive game.

"He's been the key to our success," said Maineiacs forward Simon Courcelles.

"He was the reason we won our first game and tonight we almost pulled one out again. He makes those big saves for us and keeps us in the game. It definitely gives us confidence when we're not playing our game and we still have a chance to win."

BADLY OUTSHOT

Midway through the game the Maineiacs were being out-shot 20-9, but were still up by a goal. In total they were out-shot 33-20.

Not having captain Marc-Andre Cliche in the lineup affected the Maineiacs.

"In junior hockey you don't have 10,000 guys to choose from," said Maineiacs head coach Clement Jodoin. "It's a big loss and we missed him. But we'll go on. We have one knee down, we don't have two knees down."

In the third, the Giants resorted to running Bernier.

"In the third period they were more in my face," Bernier said.

"But I just had to stand my ground and stay in the same position that I always play in."


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