PORTLAND, ME – June 17, 2019 – The Maine Mariners announced the re-signing of five players to standard players contracts (SPC) on Monday, officially marking the beginning of the 2019-20 roster. Forwards Terrence Wallin, Michael McNicholas, and Dillan Fox, along with defensemen Derek Pratt and Josh Couturier, have all agreed to deals for 2019-20.
Wallin, a 27-year-old forward, was an Alternate Captain in 2018-19 but found himself getting significant time in the AHL. The Yardley, PA native with Maine ties by way of Kennebunk, played 23 AHL games with the Hartford Wolf Pack in addition to his 41 with Maine. As a Mariner, Wallin put up 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists), finishing fourth on the team in scoring. The Mariners acquired Wallin in their first ever trade last September, when they sent defenseman Matias Cleland to the Adirondack Thunder. Wallin has been a pro since 2015-16 when he played for the SPHL’s Peoria Rivermen. He played his college hockey in New England at UMass-Lowell.
McNicholas is a 25-year-old forward from Reno, NV. After starting his 2018-19 season in Norway with Manglerud, he returned to the U.S. and signed with the Mariners on October 31st, 2018. The former University of New Hampshire Wildcat led the team in assists (40) and points in a Mariners uniform (53), finishing second only to Taylor Cammarata in overall point scoring. His 40 assists were also good for fourth among all ECHL rookies. McNicholas scored his first ECHL goal on November 10th, 2018, the game-winner in a 3-1 home victory over Worcester. He also finished tied for the team lead in shootout goals, with three. The Mariners coaching staff named McNicholas the team’s Rookie of the Year.
Dillan Fox was an unexpected key piece to the 2018-19 team. Signed to an SPC in January while playing for the SPHL’s Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs, Fox was out to prove he deserved to stick in the ECHL. In just 37 games, Fox scored 16 goals, good for the third most on the team. As the Mariners dealt with injuries and call ups through February and March in particular, Fox became one of the primary scoring options on the roster. He produced three multi-goal performances along the way, and was ultimately named “unsung hero” by the coaching staff. Fox played NCAA DIII hockey at SUNY Plattsburgh and had been almost exclusively in the SPHL since 2016, besides a 10-game stint with Reading in 2017-18, near his hometown of Hummelstown, PA. He just celebrated his 28th birthday last Thursday.
On the Mariners blue line, few defensemen provided a more steady presence than Derek Pratt. The rookie D-man suited up in 63 games, leading all Mariners D. The Mount Hermon, MA native is known much more for his stay-at-home play than point production, but he put up a respectable two goals and 16 assists from the Mariners blue line. Included, was a goal in his professional debut on October 19th, 2018 against Reading at the Cross Insurance Arena. A former Captain at the University of Connecticut, Pratt wore an “A” on his sweater amidst call ups to the original Mariners captains in 2018-19. He earned a look with both Hartford and the Utica Comets, with which he made his AHL debut in April.
Josh Couturier didn’t join the Mariners until mid-February, but he had a significant impact after the trade that saw him shipped over from Wheeling. Just two days after playing at the Cross Insurance Arena as a visitor with the Nailers on February 10th, he quickly turned around and headed back to Portland to join the Maine lineup. Couturier scored a goal in his team debut on February 13th and finished with 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in 19 games as a Mariner after posting just two points 32 contests with Wheeling. The 24-year-old blue-liner hails from Newbury, MA and played collegiately for both Boston College and UMass-Amherst.
ECHL teams can sign players on their season-ending roster to SPCs up through June 30th, after which eight players per team can be issued qualified offers to extend the retention of their rights. Free agency begins on July 1st.
Fans are invited to meet the players, plus coaches and staff at a meet and greet at Binga’s Stadium on Tuesday, June 18th from 7-8:30. Fans can also enter to win a Mariners prize pack at the event.
The second ECHL season of Maine Mariners hockey kicks off October 11th at home when the Adirondack Thunder visit the Cross Insurance Arena for a 7:15 PM faceoff. Full and half season plans along with 12-game mini plans and group tickets are on sale now by calling 833-GO-MAINE or visiting the Mariners front office at 94 Free St. in Portland. Single game tickets will go on sale September 16th.