Today's wintry Train of Thought takes us Down East to what was home to a bunch of Maine-iacs.
While Maine isn't home to any big-league sports teams, the Pine Tree State's largest city has been home to a number of minor-league affiliates such as the Portland Pirates (AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes) and Portland Sea Dogs (Eastern League Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox)- to say nothing of Maine Black Bears hockey and football. During the 1990s, when AHL franchises in Canada's Maritime provinces were leaving to go further west, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League stepped in to fill the void in cities like Moncton, Halifax, Prince Edward Island and St John's.
By the early 2000s, the QMJHL had designs on expansion south of the border and in 2003 the Sherbrooke Castors moved to Lewiston, ME- Maine's second largest city- to become the Lewiston Maineiacs. The team did fairly well during its time in Lewiston, including winning the QMJHL title in 2007 and advancing to the Memorial Cup- a three way final between the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League and QMJHL- that year. However, the Maineiacs were consistently ranked in the bottom for attendance in the QMJHL and by 2009 the team was openly discussing moving to suburban Montreal. By 2010, the team had changed ownership, although attendance continued to suffer due to persistent relocation rumors. The team disbanded by the end of May 2011- although was by no means the end of hockey in Lewiston. The Androscoggin Bank Colisée is now the home of the Portland Pirates of the AHL as the ownership of the AHL and the Cumberland County, Maine are currently in a contract dispute.
Back in the halcyon days of a QMJHL presence in Lewiston, railpictures.net contributor caught Pan Am GP40 #381 leasing southbound freight RUPO [RUmford, ME to Rigby yard in POrtlnd, ME] over the Androscroggin River between Lewiston and Auburn, ME on a chilly December 28, 2010 afternoon. Trailing the lead unit are a pair of Guilford-painted former CN GP40-2LWs hauling finished paper products from the mills up by Rumford. The train is about ⅔rds of the way to the former Maine Central yard in Portland.