By George Paul
Boston Bruin icon, Ray Bourque, officially dropped the puck to a sold out Central Maine Civic Center for the inaugural home season opener of the Lewiston, Maineiacs on September 19, 2003.
Eskasoni’s future icon, Chad Denny, laced his skates for the Maineiacs to officially become the first Mi’kmaq from Nova Scotia to play in a Quebec Major Junior League Hockey game.
Chad DennyDenny, who his teammates jokingly refer to as”Team Baby,” is the youngest player in the team but not the smallest. Denny weighs 218 pounds at a height of 6’2 inches.
Denny’s first official game was with great anticipation and nervousness. Close to 30 family and friends took the 12-hour journey to attend Chad’s first game.
The month leading to the home opener was nerve racking for the family. Many players were cut from the team but Chad made it to the final roster. Maineiacs head coach, Mario Derouche said, “Chad is the future of our team, he’s only16 years old and is a big presence on the ice. This will be a big year for him.”
For Chad the Quebec Major Juniors is a major step from Sydney midget, ” It is a real challenge, a whole different game, more intensity, more speed,” said Chad.
Chad has great support from family and friends back home and the transition of being away from home is much easier for Chad. Chad is accustomed to traveling to Maine. For generation his family and many Mi’kmaqs from Atlantic Canada have always made the annual trek to Maine to harvest blueberries for 3 to 4 weeks in August.
This year, Chad’s trip was for a whole different reason.
So far Chad is coping very well and is not home sick. Chad likes Lewiston and the family he’s billeted to. Chad’s parents are only a phone call away and they have the phone bill to prove it.
The Drummondville Voltigeurs spoiled the Maineiacs’ home opener with a 6-3 win at the Central Maine Civic Center. But it was a great night for the Maineiacs franchise. The Civic Center was sold out in for the first time, it is said over 50 years.
Chad played extremely well in the season opener and the crowd saw the first fight when at 8:03 in the second period, Chad threw down the gloves with Vincent. Chad and Vincent wrestled each other to the ground and each got fighting penalties for their actions.
The fight energized the crowd.
Historically natives in professional hockey have always had the reputation as enforcers and fighters. But for Chad his mission is very different, “I won’t fight, until I have to. I didn’t come here to fight, I came here to play.”
The Maineiacs are scheduled to play against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on November 14, 2003. I guarantee, not a seat will be left at Center 200.