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QMJHL buys Mainiacs and prepares to dissolve franchise, announces Sherbrooke team

BOUCHERVILLE, Qc - The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will have one fewer franchise next season after the league bought out the Lewiston Maineiacs in order to dissolve the team.

League commissioner Gilles Courteau announced the move on Tuesday following a vote from the QMJHL's board of governors. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The existing Lewiston players will be claimed by the league's other 17 teams in a dispersal draft.

"I am truly sad for Maineiacs fans," said majority owner Mark Just in a statement. "For those that supported the team over the past few years, I would like to thank you. Nonetheless, mounting financial losses became too much to bear for our ownership group."

The league also announced that Sherbrooke, Que., has been awarded an expansion team to start play in the 2012-13 season.

The Maineiacs, the QMJHL's only American team, made their debut in 2003 when the Sherbrooke Castors moved to Lewiston, Maine.

They won the league championship, the Presidents' Trophy, in 2007 and advanced to the Memorial Cup, where they finished 1-3 and did not advance to the playoffs.

"I am disappointed for the fans in Lewiston," Courteau said in a statement. "The Maineiacs enjoyed some very good moments, including a President Cup championship in 2007. I know that Mark Just and his ownership group did all that they could to save the franchise, but the situation was no longer viable."

The Sherbrooke group is led by former QMJHL and NHL all-star goaltender Jocelyn Thibault. The team will play its games at the city's Palais des Sports Leopold-Drolet.

"The QMJHL is very excited to welcome Sherbrooke back into its fold," Courteau said. "With strong local ownership, I am convinced that major junior hockey will once again flourish in Sherbrooke."

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