RW, Lewiston MAINEiacs (QMJHL)
Last December, while he was playing for the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Rangers prospect Marc-Andre Cliche received one of hockey's greatest honors just in time for Christmas.
"All the coaches called us into the locker room and nobody knew what was going on," Cliche said as he recalled that day. "Then they told everybody they were taking the captaincy away from one of our teammates and giving it to me. Nobody knew it was coming, but all my teammates were very happy about it. It was really an honor to be recognized as a leader."
While a change in leadership might rock the boat in some locker rooms by causing tension among teammates, it is a testament to Cliche's character and popularity that the move was well received by everyone, and actually improved his team's chemistry.
Cliche, the Rangers' second of two second-round picks in the 2005 Entry Draft, has been recognized in numerous other ways for both his on-ice talents and personal attributes. Following the 2005-06 season, he was awarded Lewiston's Pat Tillman Trophy, given to the team's most inspirational player.
In addition to his major-junior honors, Cliche is proud to be viewed by the Rangers as a potentially key contributor to the organization's future.
"Marc is an explosive player," said Rangers Head Coach Tom Renney. "He is very quick and has a good set of hands on him. He has great work habits, is very conscious defensively, and from a hockey sense, instinctively he is a very smart player."
Cliche enjoyed a stellar season at Lewiston, dominating his QMJHL competition. He registered 37 goals and 45 assists for 82 points, along with 60 penalty minutes in 66 games during the 2005-06 season. He also recorded a staggering 22 power-play goals, three shorthanded tallies and eight game-winning goals. And although the MAINEiacs exited the playoffs in the firs round, Cliche had a solid series, netting two goals and two assists for four points and zero penalty minutes.
Only 19, the fearless young winger is an offensive dynamo known to produce points in bunches. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound winger scored in all but one game during a remarkable 10-game stretch to start the 2005-06 season, tallying three goals and eight assists for 11 points. He also produced two separate eight game point scoring streaks in 2005-06.
Cliche, left, received coaching from Adam Graves at the 2006 Prospect Development Camp.
"His feet and hands are deadly," Renney said. "When they work in combination, he is one of those guys who is very hard to defend because of his quickness."
A native of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Cliche is a strong skater with a long, fluid stride. He works nonstop without the puck to get open, putting himself in ideal situations to capitalize on the offensive end. He is also very responsible in his own zone and is mindful of the importance of playing well on defense.
"I pride myself on being a complete player," he said. "I play both ways. It won't make a difference if I score a goal if I am not good in the defensive zone, so I make my plays there, and once I get out of the defensive zone, then I go and score some goals."
That type of attitude helped prompt the Lewiston coaches to give him the captaincy. Still, Cliche refuses to let any recent acclaim go to his head as he readies himself for his first full season as the MAINEiac's captain.
"I'm going to prepare like usual, as if I wasn't a captain," he said. "I'm just going to practice hard every day, hit the gym, and show the kids coming in what it takes to succeed." -- Ricky Henne
|MARC-ANDRE CLICHE - 2005-06 STATISTICS |
|RW ||Lewiston (QMJHL regular season) ||66 ||37 ||45 ||82 ||60 ||22 ||3 ||8 |
| ||Lewiston (QMJHL playoffs) ||6 ||2 ||2 ||4 ||0 ||2 ||0 ||0 |