By Mike Mastovich
For The Tribune-Democrat
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Maxime Boisclair’s return to the ECHL started in some of the same venues he played last season.
Signed by the Elmira Jackals on Tuesday, Boisclair played in a 4-3 loss Wednesday at Reading’s Sovereign Center, the site of the Johnstown Chiefs’ dramatic playoff-clinching win in the 2006-07 regular-season finale, and the right wing had two goals in a 6-3 win over the Royals at Elmira.
Boisclair skated on even more familiar ice Saturday night against his former team, the Chiefs, at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. He had one assist and two penalty minutes in the Jackals 3-0 win that halted the Chiefs 6-0-1-0 unbeaten streak.
“I didn’t know about playing in Johnstown until a few days ago,” Boisclair said during a Thursday telephone interview. “I think it’s going to be a little strange but there were a lot of good memories and good times down there.”
Boisclair represented the Chiefs in the 2007 ECHL All-Star Game in Boise, Idaho. He had two assists in the American Conference’s 6-3 win over the National Conference.
In Johnstown Boisclair had a team-best 17 goals and 51 points in 59 games. He joined the Chiefs as a contract player with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons (he appeared in 17 AHL games) and was considered a prospect in the Tampa Bay Lightning system.
After the season ended with a playoff series loss to Trenton, Boisclair returned to college in Quebec. New Chiefs coach Ian Herbers said he contacted Boisclair about a possible return to Johnstown during the offseason but the player wasn’t interested.
“Last summer I just left professional hockey to go back to school,” Boisclair said. “I had nothing against the Chiefs or Ian Herbers. It was really a personal goal I had last summer to go back to school.
“School didn’t work. I played in the Quebec Senior League all season. I just got a call from Syracuse, and that’s why I ended up here (in Elmira).”
Boisclair, 23, spent most of the season in the senior league, which includes many players with previous experience in the high- or mid-level minors. The hockey is competitive and physical, though the skill level is considered a bit lower than the organized pro level.
“The Senior League is a tough league. I think it is the toughest league in the world,” said Boisclair, a native of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. “The play was good. It wasn’t like the ECHL, AHL or NHL. It’s only one practice a week. People aren’t really in shape. There are only two games a week. It’s not like big hockey, but it’s a good league.”
The right wing caught the attention of the Syracuse Crunch and played a game for the AHL team. Boisclair eventually landed in Elmira, where coach Steve Martinson has been dealing with a depleted lineup for weeks.
The North Division schedule made for a smooth transition.
“I played at Reading (on Wednesday). We played them last year. I knew the rink. I knew the team,” Boisclair said. “I don’t think it was a real big adjustment. I think game after game after game I’ll be in better shape.”