MARINERS WEEKLY: Suddenly Hot Mariners Approach Busy Weekend

Feb. 18, 2019 – After losing a pair of blowout games on back-to-back nights at home on February 8th and 9th, the Mariners were reeling. They had dropped 12 of 16 games in the 2019 calendar year and were in danger of falling out of the playoff conversation. A much needed Sunday afternoon win and a galvanizing comeback on Wednesday salvaged the home stand and the momentum has carried onto the road, where after a sweep in Norfolk started the trip off right, the Mariners are right back within three points of a playoff spot and feeling good about their game with 20 to go.

 

The week that was
Wednesday, Feb. 13th – WOR: 4, MNE: 5/OT

Returning to divisional play briefly, the Mariners and Railers combined for 33 first period shots, with each team scoring once – Jason Salvaggio for Maine and Barry Almeida for Worcester. The Railers got a pair in the 2nd and another early in the 3rd, to put Maine in a 4-1 hole. Making his team debut, defenseman Josh Couturier got the comeback started with wrist shot off a 3-on-1 rush at the 7:33 mark of the third. Wade Murphy followed with his first goal in a month and then Derek Pratt finished the trio of unlikely heroes, tying the game with a prayer from below the goal line at 18:00 of the 3rd. With the team’s only shot of OT, Brycen Martin completed the comeback and won the game for the Mariners with a short-side snipe. FULL GAME RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS

Friday, Feb. 15th – MNE: 4, NOR: 3/OT
Making their first ever trip to Norfolk, the Mariners fell down 2-0 and then 3-1, but closed back to within one twice on goals by Michael McNicholas (PPG) and Dwyer Tschantz. Greg Chase, returning to his former home arena (Chase was a member of the Admirals in 2015-16), scored the tying goal early in the 3rd, setting the stage for Maine’s second consecutive overtime victory. McNicholas played hero this time, scoring exactly halfway through the 3-on-3 frame, giving the Mariners seven consecutive OT or SO wins, and snapping a four game road losing streak. FULL GAME RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS

Saturday, Feb. 16th – MNE: 4, NOR: 2

The Mariners allowed the first goal of the game once again, but took the lead on goals by Terrence Wallin (1st period) and Dwyer Tschantz (2nd). After the Admirals got even late in the second period, Chase struck again, scoring for his fifth point of the weekend before the frame came to an end. Dillan Fox added insurance in the 3rd and Hannu Toivonen did the rest, making 30 saves for the win in his first start since January 12th. Jason Salvaggio and Brycen Martin each dropped the gloves in the win. FULL GAME RECAP & HIGHLGHTS

 

Transactions
-The Mariners acquired D Josh Couturier from Wheeling for future considerations
-F Ty Ronning was recalled to AHL Hartford
-F Drew Melanson (recalled) and D Derek Pratt (loaned) moved up to AHL Hartford
-The Mariners acquired D Blake Kessel from Jacksonville for future considerations

 

Coming up (all times Eastern)
Weds, Feb. 20th @ Reading Royals – 7:00 PM (AWAY)
Fri, Feb. 22nd @ Adirondack Thunder – 7:00 PM (AWAY)
Sat, Feb 23rd @ Manchester Monarchs – 6:00 PM (AWAY)
Sun, Feb. 24th vs. Worcester Railers – 3:00 PM (HOME)

 

With four key divisional games coming up, the Mariners are currently in 6th place in the North Division, sitting with the same point total as Reading, one behind Worcester, three behind Manchester, and only four back of Brampton. Maine holds a game in hand on the Railers and two on the Monarchs. An extended win streak could also put them in striking distance of the second place Thunder. Sunday’s brief home return will feature a postgame autograph session with the entire team in the concourse. After the 24th, the Mariners are back on the road until March 6th.

 

Looking ahead:
March will feature six home games and several exciting promotional nights. March 6th is a sensory reduced game and also “Autism Awareness” night. More information on that game is here. On March 8th, the Stanley Cup® is in the building, and on March 9th, it’s Wild Blueberries Night presented by Northeast Charter & Tour, Co. A full promotional schedule is here.

 

Fun Facts/Notes:

-In the month of February (8 games), Greg Chase has six goals and six assists
-The Mariners are 7-0-0-1 in games decided by either OT or a SO, winning their last seven
-Last Wednesday’s three-goal third period comeback was the second of this season at the Cross Insurance Arena (Nov. 24 vs. Manchester). There was also less than 13 minutes remaining in the third when they engineered that comeback.
-The Mariners current four game win streak is tied for their 2nd longest this season (Nov. 7-14). They won five in a row from Dec. 14-29.

MARINERS ACQUIRE KESSEL FROM JACKSONVILLE

PORTLAND, ME – February 17, 2019 – The Mariners announced the acquisition of defenseman Blake Kessel from the Jacksonville IceMen on Sunday. In exchange, the Mariners send future considerations to Jacksonville. Blake is the younger brother of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel.

A native of Verona, WI, Kessel was drafted at the age of 18 by the New York Islanders in the 6th round of the 2007 NHL draft. He played for three seasons at the University of New Hampshire before beginning his pro career with the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms in 2011. Since his rookie season, he’s played primarily in the ECHL with six different organizations (Trenton, Bakersfield, Orlando, Atlanta, Kalamazoo, and Jacksonville), but has also suited up for five AHL teams (Adirondack, Rockford, Rochester, Toronto, and Milwaukee). The well-traveled blue liner has played 193 career ECHL games and 85 in the AHL.

Kessel has been a solid point producer on the back end over his ECHL career. With 137 career points, he’s put up three seasons of 30 points or more. He was named an ECHL All-Star in 2014-15 while with Orlando, and had his best offensive season in 2016-17, when he put up 40 points (10 goals, 30 assists) between Atlanta and Kalamazoo. Kessel has also played overseas in Finland, Germany, and Slovakia (last season). This season in 7 games with Jacksonville, he has one goal and two assists.

The Mariners are in the midst of a five game road trip, playing next on Wednesday night in Reading at 7:00 PM. They will then travel to Glens Falls, NY and Manchester, NH over the weekend. The next home game is Sunday, February 24th at 3:00 PM against the Worcester Railers. A full team autograph session will follow the game. Single game tickets can be purchased HERE or by visiting or calling the Trusted Choice Box Office: 207-775-3458.

MCNICHOLAS CAPS THREE POINT NIGHT WITH OT WINNER IN NORFOLK

NORFOLK, VA – February 15, 2019 – For the second straight game, the Maine Mariners came from behind in the third and prevailed in overtime. Michael McNicholas played hero on Friday night at the Norfolk Scope, scoring the game-winner at 2:30 of OT to get the Mariners a crucial two points on the road and their third win in a row.

The Admirals scored the only goal of the opening period when he backhanded an active carom off the backboards over a sprawling Connor LaCouvee at 7:16 of the first. The Mariners took three penalties in the first, starting the second shorthanded as well.

Norfolk doubled their lead at 2:19 of the second when Kelly Klima scored a power play goal, finishing off Ben Duffy’s drive to the net off a faceoff win. The Mariners responded with a power play goal of their own at 5:34 of the period when Greg Chase patiently waited and slid a pass to Michael McNicholas for a back-door tap in. The Admirals went back up two at 8:14 as Jake Wood beat Connor LaCouvee to the back post finishing a second chance after missing a 3-on-1. The Mariners closed the deficit again at 15:33 with a conversion of a 2-on-1, Josh Couturier feeding Dwyer Tschantz for his third goal of the season. Maine trailed 3-2 at the end of two.

It took only 1:20 in the third for the Mariners to get even when Greg Chase ripped a shot past Ty Reichenbach off a McNicholas faceoff win. The game remained tied through the end of regulation, with the Mariners holding a 33-32 shot edge.

Like Wednesday, the opponent controlled the first half of overtime, but at the exact halfway point, McNicholas pulled a fake toe-drag and then beat Reichenbach with a wrist shot to end the game. Chase completed a three point night of his own with an assist. LaCouvee stopped 31 of 34 for his seventh win. Maine improved to 7-0-1 in games advancing beyond regulation, and have won seven straight. They snapped a four game road losing streak with the win.

The Mariners are back in Norfolk tomorrow night at 7:00 PM for the second of five straight on the row. The next home game is Sunday, February 24th at 3:00 PM, when Worcester comes to town again. A full team autograph session will follow the game. Single game tickets can be purchased HERE or by visiting or calling the Trusted Choice Box Office: 207-775-3458.

MELANSON, PRATT HEADED TO HARTFORD

PORTLAND, ME – February 14, 2019 – In a pair of roster moves made on Thursday, forward Drew Melanson and defenseman Derek Pratt are both headed to the Hartford Wolf Pack. Melanson on recall, for the second time this season, and Pratt on a loan.

Melanson gets his second AHL stint of the season, after initially being called up on December 21st. He appeared in three games his first time up, with no points. He had one assist in five games for the Wolf Pack last season. The 24-year-old forward from Paramus, NJ is currently third on the Mariners in scoring with 10 goals and 17 assists in 43 games.

Pratt (24 years old from Mount Hermon, MA) will get his first look at the AHL, but was in training camp with Hartford and played for the Rangers at the annual Traverse City Prospects Tournament in September. In 44 games with the Mariners this season, Pratt has two goals and 11 assists. He scored the game-tying goal in last night’s Mariners comeback win over Worcester with 2:00 remaining in the third.

The Mariners are on the  road for five games starting Friday night against the Norfolk Admirals in Norfolk, VA at 7:00 PM. The next home game is Sunday, February 24th at 3:00 PM, when Worcester comes to town again. A full team autograph session will follow the game. Single game tickets can be purchased HERE or by visiting or calling the Trusted Choice Box Office: 207-775-3458.

MARTIN COMPLETES MIRACULOUS MARINERS COMEBACK

PORTLAND, ME – February 13, 2019 – On the day that Ty Ronning was recalled back to the AHL, the Mariners re-enacted a scene from his ECHL debut. Down 4-1 on home ice to the Worcester Railers with less than 13 minutes remaining in regulation, they stormed back to force OT and Brycen Martin played hero, scoring the game-winner on the team’s only shot of the extra session. It was the second three-goal third period comeback for the Mariners on home ice this season, following up on Ronning’s five point period November 24th against Manchester.

The Mariners grabbed a 1-0 lead at 7:25 of the first period when Jason Salvaggio and Johnny McInnis caused a turnover in the slot and Salvaggio powered a shot through Railers goaltender Mitch Gillum. The Railers answered quickly when Barry Almeida capitalized on a Connor LaCouvee turnover behind the Mariners goal and stuffed in a wraparound to tie the game at 8:07. The offense was free flowing throughout the first, with a combined 33 shots, 18-15 in favor of the Railers.

Worcester got the only two goals of the middle frame – a Ryan Hitchcock one-timer in the slot at 1:15 and a Dylan Willick deflection at the 15:00 mark. The Mariners killed a 5-on-3 in the period, but had trouble generating any momentum, getting outshot 14-7.

Just 1:03 into the third, Worcester capitalized on an instant power play and took a 4-1 lead as Tyler Barnes got alone to Connor LaCouvee’s left and beat him up top, scoring a goal for his eighth consecutive game. Looking dead in the water, the Mariners broke out with a 3-on-1 rush and defenseman Josh Couturier, making his Maine debut, beat Gillum with a wrist shot to cut into the deficit at 7:33. Wade Murphy brought the Mariners back to within one when his backhand at 12:17 finished off a relentless shift in the offensive zone. On the very next rush, Michael McNicholas narrowly missed tapping home Dillan Fox’s cross ice feed that would have tied the game. With two minutes remaining, Derek Pratt’s threw a puck from below the goal line that caromed perfectly off Gillum’s skate and in to make it 4-4.

The Railers controlled possession for roughly the first 90 seconds of overtime, but Brycen Martin marched down the left wing at 2:57 of the extra frame and beat Gillum short-side high for his sixth of the season and the game-winner. Jason Salvaggio finished the game with a goal and three assists. Terrence Wallin and Johnny McInnis each had two helpers. Connor LaCouvee made 43 saves on 47 shots to earn his 6th win.

The Mariners gained ground on all six other teams in the North with Reading and Manchester falling, and Newfoundland, Adirondack, and Brampton all idle. They’ve won back-to-back games for the first time in 2019 and five in a row against Worcester.

The Mariners will head on the road for five games starting Friday night against the Norfolk Admirals in Norfolk, VA at 7:00 PM. The next home game is Sunday, February 24th at 3:00 PM, when Worcester comes to town again. A full team autograph session will follow the game. Single game tickets can be purchased HERE or by visiting or calling the Trusted Choice Box Office: 207-775-3458.

RONNING RECALLED TO HARTFORD

PORTLAND, ME – February 13, 2019 – Forward Ty Ronning was recalled to the Hartford Wolf Pack on Wednesday. Ronning has 19 points in 22 games with the Mariners but hasn’t appeared in a game since suffering a lower body injury on January 18th against Manchester.

A 7th round pick of the New York Rangers in 2016, Ronning was assigned to Maine on November 19th and made quite a splash in his ECHL debut, scoring three goals and adding two assists all in the third period on November 24th against Manchester, leading the Mariners to a come-from-behind 6-4 win. In total, Ronning has scored nine goals, adding ten assists in 22 games as a Mariner this season. On January 12th in Brampton, Ronning scored the overtime winner in the game’s final seconds on what was the Mariners’ only shot of OT.

Since his professional debut in 2016-17, the 21-year-old Ronning has played 23 games with Hartford, scoring three goals and adding three assists. He joined Hartford out of the Vancouver Giants WHL organization, where he put up back to back 50-point seasons to finish his Junior career.

The Mariners are home tonight, finishing their five game homestand as they return to divisional play and host the Worcester Railers at 7:00 PM. Only two home games remain in the month of February – the other is Sunday, February 24th at 3:00 PM also against Worcester. A full team autograph session will follow the game. Single game tickets can be purchased HERE or by visiting or calling the Trusted Choice Box Office: 207-775-3458.

MARINERS ACQUIRE COUTURIER FROM WHEELING

PORTLAND, ME – February 12, 2019 – Defenseman Josh Couturier played his most recent game at the Cross Insurance Arena. It’s now where he’ll play his home games. The Mariners and Wheeling Nailers announced a trade on Tuesday, sending Couturier to Maine in exchange for future considerations. The Mariners had been managing with just six defenseman on the roster after the loan of Zach Tolkinen to Hartford.

Couturier is a New England product, born in Newbury, MA, playing for the EJHL’s Boston Jr. Bruins at the start of his Junior hockey career. After a brief stop in the USHL with the Des Moines Buccaneers, he returned to Boston to re-join the Jr. Bruins at the USPHL Premier level, and eventually committed to Boston College. After one year at BC, he transferred to the University of Massachusetts, sitting out 2016-17 due to transfer rules, and playing 39 games last season, with two goals and 13 assists. The now 23-year-old Couturier signed with Wheeling in late September 2018.

In 23 games with the Nailers, Couturier has one goal and one assist, with 12 penalty minutes. He scored his first professional goal on December 27th at Indy. He was in the lineup this past Sunday, as the Mariners beat Wheeling, 4-1.

The Mariners are home on Wednesday night, finishing their five game homestand as they return to divisional play and host the Worcester Railers at 7:00 PM. Only two home games remain in the month of February – the other is Sunday, February 24th at 3:00 PM also against Worcester. A full team autograph session will follow the game. General admission tickets can be purchased HERE or by visiting or calling the Trusted Choice Box Office: 207-775-3458.

MARINERS WEEKLY: Mariners Seek Winning Homestand Before Hitting Road

Feb. 12, 2019 – While Friday and Saturday turned out to be games to forget, the Maine Mariners (23-24-0-1) bounced back on Sunday with a much needed 4-1 win, bringing their homestand to 2-2-0-0 heading into its conclusion on Wednesday night against Worcester. A five game road trip begins on Friday, and signals a stretch of eight of the nine away from Portland, which will take the Mariners into the month of March, and the true home stretch of the season. Sitting on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, the Mariners could use a return to their November and December form to make a push to the postseason.

 

The week that was
Friday, Feb. 8th – CIN: 8, MNE: 1

The Western Conference-leading Cincinnati Cyclones came into the Cross Insurance Arena and showed why they possess the second best record in the ECHL, dropping a seven-spot on the Mariners in just the first period. Former Mariner Brady Vail netted a hat trick, while Pascal Aquin finished the night with five points – a goal and four assists. Of the eight goals scored, five came against Connor LaCouvee and three on Ed Minney. Greg Chase scored the only Maine goal, on the power play. FULL GAME RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS

Saturday, Feb. 9th – GRN: 8, MNE: 2
While Greenville didn’t carry the same clout into Portland as Cincinnati before them, they too put on an offensive display – using the second period as their anchor, with six goals. The Swamp Rabbits built a 4-0 lead early in the 2nd before Jason Salvaggio and Dillan Fox showed signs of a potential comeback. Sloppy defensive play and another shaky performance from LaCouvee was the story the rest of the way. Hannu Toivonen made a relief appearance and allowed two of the eight. Chris Izmirlian scored four goals for Greenville, who would go on to put up 7 on Sunday in Manchester. FULL GAME RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday, Feb. 10th – WHE: 1, MNE: 4
Head Coach Riley Armstrong faced his former team for the first time after serving as an assistant in Wheeling the previous two seasons. In desperate need of a win, the Mariners started with a 16-7 shot advantage in the first, and grabbed a 2-0 lead in the 2nd thanks to a 5-on-3 goal by Terrence Wallin and an even strength tally by Greg Chase. LaCouvee stood tall and shut the Nailers down until midway through the third when Wheeling got a power play goal from Michael Phillips. Wallin scored his second goal of the day late in the third and Drew Melanson added an empty netter to seal it. LaCouvee stopped 34 of 35 shots.  FULL GAME RECAP & HIGHLGHTS

 

Transactions
-G BRANDON HALVERSON WAS RECALLED TO AHL HARTFORD
-G CONNOR LACOUVEE SIGNED A TWO-WAY AHL CONTRACT WITH LAVAL AND WAS ASSIGNED TO MAINE
-F MORGAN ADAMS-MOISAN WAS RECALLED TO AHL LAVAL

 

Coming up (all times Eastern)
Weds, Feb. 13th vs. Worcester Railers – 7:00 PM (HOME)
Fri, Feb. 15th @ Norfolk Admirals – 7:00 PM (AWAY)
Sat, Feb. 16th @ Norfolk Admirals – 7:00 PM (AWAY)

The Mariners resume divisional play on Wednesday night with Worcester in town at 7:00 PM. Maine has won six of the first nine meetings with the Railers this season, and currently trail them by two points in the North Division standings. The road trip begins in Norfolk on Friday as the Mariners meet the Admirals for a weekend series in Virginia. Norfolk currently sits sixth out of seven teams in the South Division, and will visit Portland for one game on March 6th. The Mariners will swing back up through Reading, Glens Falls, and Manchester next week on their way back home.

 

Coach’s Show:
The Mariners Coach’s Show airs on Tuesday from Noon to 1:00 PM on MarinersOfMaine.com/listen via Mixlr. This week’s guests included Riley Armstrong and Connor LaCouvee. Fans who submit questions through Mixlr will be entered to win a pair of tickets to Wednesday’s game. All previous Coach’s Shows and game broadcasts are archived here: http://mixlr.com/mainemariners/showreel/.

 

Looking ahead:
On Sunday, February 24th, following the 3:00 PM game against the Worcester Railers, the entire team will be on hand to sign autographs for fans of all ages in the concourse.

 

Fun Facts/Notes:

-Greg Chase has scored a goal in four of his last five games
-With his goal Sunday, Drew Melanson became the fifth Mariner this season to reach a double-figure goal total (Kile, Adams-Moisan, Chase, McNicholas). Jason Salvaggio and Ty Ronning each have nine goals
-The Mariners are now 3-1-0-0 on Sundays at home, with six Sunday home dates remaining