MARINERS WEEKLY: Win Or Don’t Get In

April. 1, 2019 – It’s now or never for the Maine Mariners. Picking an unfortunate time of the season to drop four straight, their slump has them on the outside looking in to the North Division Playoff picture with four games to go. There are still multiple paths to the postseason, but all of them involve the Mariners finishing strong. Three of the final four are on home ice in what will be a busy week of hockey in Portland.

 

The week that was
Friday, Mar. 29th – MNE: 2, REA: 6

The weekend actually got off to a great start when newly added Zeb Knutson scored 2:15 into his Mariners debut. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there, with Reading scoring twice to take the lead into the first intermission and four more unanswered goals before Dillan Fox finally stopped the bleeding after the game was well in hand for Reading. Francois Brassard also made his ECHL debut, relieving Chris Nell in the third period. Despite the loss, the Mariners magic number decreased as Brampton lost to Adirondack. FULL GAME RECAP

Saturday, Mar. 30th – MNE: 2, ADK: 4

The Mariners opened up a 2-0 lead on first period goals by Nick Master (the first of his pro career) and Zeb Knutson. Francois Brassard, making his first ECHL start, looked to have things under control until a late 2nd period goal from Mariners killer John Edwardh. The Thunder carried their momentum into the third, tying it early and eventually taking the lead thanks to Mike Szmatula with about eight minutes left. A full ice-length empty netter by defenseman Blake Thompson sealed the most frustrating loss of the season. FULL GAME RECAP

Sunday, Mar 31st – ADK: 7, MNE: 5
In desperate need of a win, the Mariners didn’t get the start they were looking for and fell into a 3-0 first period hole on goals by Cullen Bradshaw, Blake Thompson, and Jake Linhart, again chasing Nell in favor of Brassard. Taylor Cammarata and Dillan Fox got two back before the period ended, and the Mariners battled in the 2nd to eventual tie things at four. Cammarata scored his second of the game and Master got his second in as many games to pull Maine even through 40 minutes. The Mariners got into penalty trouble in the 3rd and the lethal Thunder power play made them pay, scoring twice in the third and thrice in the game. Linhart added a shorthanded goal before Cammarata finished the somber hat trick. FULL GAME RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS

 

Transactions
-The Mariners claimed F Zeb Knutson off waivers from Indy
-F Greg Chase was returned on loan from AHL Hartford
-D Josh Wesley was assigned to Maine from AHL Hartford by Carolina

-D Rich Boyd was released from his SPC
-D Josh Wesley was recalled to AHL Hartford by Carolina
-D Ryan Culkin was reassigned to Maine from AHL Laval


Coming up (all times Eastern)

Weds, Apr. 3rd vs. Reading Royals – 7:00 PM (HOME)
Fri, Apr. 5th vs. Worcester Railers – 7:15 PM (HOME) – DALE ARNOLD APPEARANCE
Sat, Apr. 6th @ Manchester Monarchs – 6:00 PM (AWAY)
Sun, Apr. 7th vs. Newfoundland Growlers – 3:00 PM (HOME) – FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT

The Mariners and Reading Royals will both be in “must win mode” on Wednesday at the Cross Insurance Arena as they finish their season series. Boston Bruins NESN TV host and former Maine Mariners AHL broadcaster, Dale Arnold will make a pregame appearance on April 5th, with copies of his book, If These Walls Could Talk for sale. It’s also “Teacher Appreciation Night” and the final 1-2-3 Friday ($1 hot dogs, $2 popcorn, and $3 Bud Lights through the start of the 2nd period). The game is presented by Three Rivers Whitewater. The final road game of the regular season is in Manchester on Saturday, March 6th and the regular season concludes with the Newfoundland Growlers visiting the Cross Insurance Arena on Sunday, March 7th at 3:00 PM for Fan Appreciation Night.


Standings update (top 4 make playoffs)
:
1. Newfoundland: 92 points, 3 games remaining (clinched #1)
2. Adirondack, 80 points, 4 games remaining (clinched playoffs)
3. Manchester, 76 points, 3 games remaining (magic number: 5 pts)
4. Brampton, 76 points, 3 games remaining (magic number: 6 pts)
5. Maine, 73 points, 4 games remaining
6. Reading, 72 points, 3 games remaining
7. Worcester, 70 points, 4 games remaining

*NOTE: The first tiebreaker is ROW (regulation and overtime wins). Both Manchester and Brampton have the tiebreaker on Maine, and Manchester has clinched their tiebreaker.


PATHS TO THE PLAYOFFS
The easiest path for the Mariners is to simply win their final four games. If they accomplish that (while beating Manchester in regulation), they will clinch a playoff spot regardless of what Manchester and Brampton do otherwise. Brampton has the most difficult remaining schedule, playing ECHL-leading Cincinnati on Friday, followed by a home-and-home with Central Division #2 seed Toledo. If the Beast lose 2 of those 3 games in regulation, a 3-1 Maine record, would be enough to get them in.

MANCHESTER REMAINING SCHEDULE: Weds .@ WOR, Fri .vs. NFL, Sat. vs. MNE
BRAMPTON REMAINING SCHEDULE: Fri. @ CIN, Sat @ TOL, Sunday vs. TOL

RYAN CULKIN REASSIGNED TO MAINE

PORTLAND, ME – April 1, 2019 – The Mariners added to their blue line on Monday as defenseman Ryan Culkin was reassigned from AHL Laval to Maine. Culkin, who began the year with the Mariners, had had two call ups to Laval, and has been on the Rocket roster since February 2nd.

Culkin, a 25-year-old native of Montreal, has played 35 games in Maine, with two goals and 20 assists. He scored the second goal in franchise history, a power play goal on October 13th against Adirondack. His initial recall came on November 22nd, and he was returned December 10th. On February 2nd, the Rocket called him up a second time. In Laval, Culkin has played 9 games, scoring one goal.

Culkin signed with the Rocket in the July, after spending all of 2017-18 in the ECHL with the Fort Wayne Komets, where he led all team defenseman in points, with 38 in 53 games. Culkin was a fifth round draft pick of Calgary in 2012 and has played 92 career AHL games, along with 137 in the ECHL.

Four games remain in the regular season, with the Mariners behind the Manchester Monarchs and Brampton Beast by three points for the  third and fourth North Division playoff spots. Maine has a game in hand on each team, but does not hold the tiebreaker against either.

The Mariners will host the Reading Royals on Wednesday, the Worcester Railers on Friday, and the Newfoundland Growlers on Sunday. They finish their road schedule on Saturday in Manchester. NESN Bruins TV host and former AHL Mariners broadcaster Dale Arnold will make an appearance on Friday. Tickets to all home games are available HERE or at the Trusted Choice Box Office inside the Cross Insurance Arena. The Trusted Choice Box Office can be reached at 207-775-3468.

CAMMARATA HAT TRICK NOT ENOUGH AS MARINERS FALL TO THUNDER

PORTLAND, ME – March 31, 2019 – The Mariners battled back from down three goals early and got a hat trick from Taylor Cammarata but fell victim to three Thunder special teams goals in the third and fell by a final score of 7-5 on Sunday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Arena. It was Maine’s fourth straight loss and it dropped them three points out of a playoff spot in the North Division.

Adirondack would build a 3-0 lead in the opening period, scoring twice in a 30 second span at 6:49 and 7:19 to break the ice. Cullen Bradshaw banked a puck off the back of goaltender Chris Nell and defenseman Blake Thompson beat Nell’s glove with a wrist shot. On the power play at 15:46, Jake Linhart blasted a point shot inside the post to make it 3-0 and chase Nell from the net. The Mariners got back in the game with Taylor Cammarata’s first goal of the game at 17:24, a high to low pass from Greg Chase to set it up. Just 37 seconds later, Dillan Fox lifted a backhand up and over Eric Schierhorn to make it a 3-2 game, which was the score after one.

After two killed penalties early in the 2nd, the Thunder went back up two on a Dylan Walchuk goal, set up nicely by Bradshaw at 10:52. The Mariners rallied back when Cammarata finished a tic-tac-toe passing play at 13:37 from McNicholas and Chase. With under two minutes left in the period, Nick Master scored on a breakaway to tie the game at four, giving him five points in four professional games.

The Mariners fell behind in the third when Shane Conacher scored on a power play quickly after a Josh Couturier interference call. The Thunder eventually got a 5-on-3 and scored on the tail end of the second penalty with a goal from Peter MacArthur. Linhart added a shorthanded goal for insurance, completing a three point game.

With their win, the Thunder clinched a spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club. The Mariners fell to three points behind Brampton, which completed a road sweep in Worcester. With four games remaining in the regular season, the Mariners still have a game in hand on the Beast, as well as the Manchester Monarchs, who are also ahead of them by three points.

The Mariners will host the Reading Royals on Wednesday, the Worcester Railers on Friday, and the Newfoundland Growlers next Sunday. They finish their road schedule on Saturday in Manchester. NESN Bruins TV host and former AHL Mariners broadcaster Dale Arnold will make an appearance on Friday. Tickets to all home games are available HERE or at the Trusted Choice Box Office inside the Cross Insurance Arena. The Trusted Choice Box Office can be reached at 207-775-3468.

MARINERS ADD CHASE, WESLEY FROM HARTFORD

PORTLAND, ME – March 31, 2019 – The Mariners will get two key additions to their lineup Sunday afternoon, adding forward Greg Chase and defenseman Josh Wesley from the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. Chase returns from loan and Wesley is assigned from Hartford for Sunday’s game.

Chase is Maine’s leading goal scorer, with 22 goals on the season – 20 of which he has scored in a Mariners uniform. Acquired in a December deal with the Allen Americans, Chase has 36 points in 36 games as a Mariner. The Sherwood Park, Alberta native has split his pro career between the AHL and ECHL, and has been loaned to the Wolf Pack twice. With Hartford, the 24-year-old Chase has played in five games with no points and four penalty minutes.

Wesley, a 22-year-old defenseman under contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, has also been up and down between the AHL and ECHL the last three seasons. Drafted by the Hurricanes in round four of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Wesley played nine games with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) in 2016-17 and 48 games later that season with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. After splitting the next two seasons between the two organizations, Wesley was loaned to Hartford on February 28th, 2019 as part of a trade that sent goaltender Dustin Tokarski from Hartford to Charlotte. In 108 career ECHL games, Wesley has 13 goals and 34 assists.

The Mariners host the Adirondack Thunder this afternoon at the Cross Insurance Arena with a 3:00 PM puck drop. It’s a crucial game in the North Division playoff race, with the Mariners currently one point behind Brampton for fourth place and three behind idle Manchester for third. The Thunder can clinch a playoff spot with a win. A screening of D2: The Mighty Ducks will immediately follow today’s game on the video board, free for all fans who purchase tickets to the game. Tickets are available HERE or at the Trusted Choice Box Office inside the Cross Insurance Arena.

MASTER’S FIRST PRO GOAL NOT ENOUGH IN GLENS FALLS

GLENS FALLS, NY – March 30, 2019 – The Mariners led for most of the game, but couldn’t hold onto a 2-0 lead, and fell 4-2 to the Adirondack Thunder on Saturday night at the Cool Insuring Arena. With the loss, the Mariners fell out of a playoff spot in the North Division.

Just over the halfway mark of the first period, the Mariners used the power play to get on the board first. At 10:09, Brycen Martin’s shot from the left point was redirected home by Nick Master – his first professional goal and third point in as many games since joining the Mariners last Sunday. A secondary helper went to Dwyer Tschantz. After a key penalty kill, the Mariners doubled their lead at 18:46 when Zeb Knutson cleaned up a shot from Josh Couturier, making his return from injury. Ryan Ferrill also helped out in front, receiving an assist. Francois Brassard, in his first ECHL start, turned aside all 15 shots in the opening period as the Mariners led, 2-0 through 20 minutes.

The 2-0 lead held up through the late stages of the 2nd period when Jon Edwardh finally beat Francois Brassard, roofing a turnaround shot on a rebound off a Desmond Bergin shot. James Henry also assisted as the Thunder cut the lead to one heading into the third. Brassard racked up 30 saves through two periods.

Just 1:58 into the third period, the Thunder tied it up, scoring during a delayed penalty. James Henry, who finished the game with three assists, slid one across the goal mouth to Cullen Bradshaw on the left side who put one into an empty net. With eight minutes remaining in the third, the Mariners again paid for a turnover attempting to come out of the zone and Henry fed Mike Szmatula for a shot over Brassard’s shoulder. The Mariners got a power play with 1:43 remaining and pulled Brassard to get a 6-on-4 advantage, but lost the faceoff and Blake Thompson rolled a long range dump into the empty net.

Brassard made 43 saves in the tough luck loss. Arthur Brey made 20 stops for the win. Brampton embarrassed Worcester 7-0 at the DCU center to jump ahead of Maine by one point for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North. The Mariners continue to hold games in hand on every team in the division, other than Worcester.

The Mariners and Thunder finish their regular season series tomorrow afternoon in Portland at 3:00 PM. A screening of D2: The Mighty Ducks will immediately follow the game on the video board, free for all fans who purchase tickets to the game. Tickets can be purchased HERE or by calling the Trusted Choice Box Office at 207-775-3458.

MARINERS INCH CLOSER TO PLAYOFF SPOT BUT FALL IN READING

READING, PA – March 29, 2019 – A desperate Reading Royals team fighting for its playoff lives, scored six unanswered goals after falling behind 1-0 early and cruised to a 6-2 win over the Maine Mariners on Friday night at Santander Arena. The Mariners lost their second straight game in regulation for the first time since February 8th and 9th.

Zeb Knutson, recently claimed forward off waivers from Indy, made his presence felt immediately when he scored on a breakaway just 2:15 into the game. Dillan Fox caught the Royals making a chance and spotted Knutson for a clean break from the attacking blue line in. Knutson beat the glove of Jamie Phillips to make it 1-0 Mariners. Reading got even at 8:22 of the period onCorey Mackin’s first professional goal, set up from below the goal line by Adam Schmidt. Late in the period, Jacob Graves got a shot from the blue line through Chris Nell to give Reading its first lead. Shots were even at 12 with the Royals leading 2-1 at the end of one.

As the teams traded chances early in the 2nd period, Adam Schmidt deflected a puck on its end and rolled it across the goal line to make it 3-1 Royals at 4:58. At 10:36, Michael Huntebrinker attempted to feed Alex Roos driving through, but was credited with the goal instead of the assist as the puck deflected past Nell for Reading’s fourth straight goal. The Royals held a comfortable 4-1 lead through two periods.

Tyler Brown and Matt Pohlkamp added to the Reading lead in the third making it 6-1, chasing Nell in favor of Francois Brassard. Dillan Fox was set up by Nick Master and Dwyer Tschantz at 14:41 for the Mariners’ 2nd goal. Phillips played well, stopping 36 of 38 for the win.

The Mariners magic number to clinch a playoff spot did drop to 10 points thanks to Adirondack’s win over Brampton. Manchester also fell in Newfoundland, keeping Maine three points behind the Monarchs with two games in hand. The Growlers clinched the North Division regular season title with their win.

The Mariners travel to Glens Falls for a meeting with Adirondack on Saturday at 7:00 PM, followed by a home game against the Thunder Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM. A screening of D2: The Mighty Ducks will immediately follow the game on the video board, free for all fans who purchase tickets to the game. Tickets can be purchased HERE or by calling the Trusted Choice Box Office at 207-775-3458.

MARINERS CLAIM ZEB KNUTSON OFF WAIVERS

PORTLAND, ME – March 28, 2019 – The Mariners added a forward to the roster on Thursday, claiming Zeb Knutson off waivers from the Indy Fuel. Knutson joins his third ECHL team this season, after starting the year with the Manchester Monarchs.

Knutson is a 25-year-old native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who finished his college career last season at Minnesota State-Mankato, where he was the team’s leading scorer, with 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) in 40 games. For his stellar season, he earned Third Team All-WCHA honors. Knutson finished his NCAA career with 88 points in 127 games. Upon finishing up at Mankato in 2017-18, he got a two game look in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals.

The 5’11, 180-pound forward played junior hockey in his hometown for the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. In his final season of juniors (2013-14), Knutson scored 27 goals and registered 21 assists in 55 games. The prior season he had 51 points in 62 games for the Stampede, plus eight points in 10 playoff contests.

This season, in 36 games with Manchester, Knutson scored six goals to go along with six assists. He scored his first professional goal in his first game on October 13th at Brampton, Manchester’s first goal of the season. He his first multi-goal game at the Cross Insurance Arena against the Mariners on November 24th, scoring twice. On February 22nd, Knutson was traded, along with defenseman Eric Schuhamer to Indy in exchange for forward Kevin DuFour. He had no points and four penalty minutes in seven games with the Fuel.

It’s a busy weekend for the Mariners with three games in three days – at Reading on Friday, at Adirondack on Saturday, and home against the Thunder Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM. A screening of D2: The Mighty Ducks will immediately follow the game on the video board, free for all fans who purchase tickets to the game. Tickets can be purchased HERE or by calling the Trusted Choice Box Office at 207-775-3458.

MARINERS WEEKLY: Photo Finish Coming in North Division Playoff Race

 Mar. 25, 2019 – Sunday’s home loss to Manchester was only the Mariners’ third regulation loss since February 9th, yet it dropped Maine out of third place in the North, and reduced their playoff cushion to just a single point heading into the final two weeks of the season. Realistically, the Mariners could finish as high as 2nd place or as low as 7th, a chaotic reality that is right in line with how the North Division has unfolded all season long. The Mariners still control their own destiny, with more games remaining than any team in the division, and a relatively favorable strength of schedule. Still, it seems destined that nothing will truly be decided until the season’s final day on April 7th.

 

The week that was

Friday, Mar. 22nd – MNE: 2, WOR: 1/OT

It was the second trip to the DCU Center for the Mariners in six days after a 5-3 loss the previous Saturday. Worcester defenseman Tyler Mueller put the Railers on the board early and the 1-0 score held up until nearly the midway point of the third when Greg Chase deflected in Johnny Coughlin’s shot from the left circle to even it up. Chase showed impressive hand-eye coordination when he then scored a baseball-swing OT winner at the three minute mark of the extra session, giving the Mariners a 6-0 record in OT/SO against the Railers this season and a crucial two points. FULL GAME RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday, Mar. 24th – MAN: 6, MNE: 2

The Mariners fell into a 3-0 first period hole, but showed signs of life when Brycen Martin scored a power play goal late in the opening period. The power play struggled the rest of the game, however, going 1/8 and preventing the Mariners from gaining any momentum. Manchester eventually built a 6-1 lead and cruised to victory, stealing 3rd place out of Maine’s clutches. Nick Master, recently signed forward out of UMass-Lowell, had an assist in his pro debut, setting up Dillan Fox for the second Mariners goal. FULL GAME RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS

 

Transactions
-F Greg Chase was returned on loan from Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
-F Drew Melanson was recalled to the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
-The Mariners signed G Francois Brassard to a SPC
-The Mariners signed F Nick Master to a SPC
-F Morgan Adams-Moisan was recalled to the Laval Rocket (AHL)
-The Mariners signed D Richie Boyd to a SPC
-F Greg Chase was loaned to Hartford, F Drew Melanson reassigned to Maine

 

Coming up (all times Eastern)
Fri, Mar. 29th @ Reading Royals – 7:00 PM (AWAY)
Sat, Mar. 30th @ Adirondack Thunder – 7:00 PM (AWAY)
Sun, Mar. 31st vs. Adirondack Thunder – 3:00 PM (HOME) – MIGHTY DUCKS NIGHT WITH POSTGAME MOVIE

The Mariners have an extremely busy final two weeks with three games in three days on consecutive weekends. Friday is the final visit of the season to Reading as the Royals cling to their playoff lives. The weekend home-and-home with Adirondack will likely decide whether or not the Mariners have a chance at the #2 seed. Sunday afternoon’s game features a postgame screening of D2: The Mighty Ducks on the video board. Julie “The Cat” Gaffney, one of the main characters in the movie, is portrayed as a native of Bangor. Sunday is also Youth Hockey Night and Hospitality Industry Night.

 

Looking ahead:
Four games remain after Sunday, three at home. The Mariners host Reading on Wednesday, April 3rd and Worcester on Friday, April 5th. Boston Bruins NESN TV host and former Maine Mariners AHL broadcaster, Dale Arnold will make a pregame appearance on April 5th, with copies of his book, If These Walls Could Talk for sale. The final road game of the regular season is in Manchester on Saturday, March 6th and the regular season concludes with the Newfoundland Growlers visiting the Cross Insurance Arena on Sunday, March 7th at 3:00 PM.

 

Standings update (top 4 make playoffs):
1. Newfoundland: 88 points, 5 games remaining (clinched playoffs)
2. Adirondack, 76 points, 6 games remaining (magic number: 11 pts)
3. Manchester, 74 points, 6 games remaining (magic number: 13 pts)
4. Maine, 73 points, 7 games remaining (magic number: 14 pts)
5. Brampton, 72 points, 7 games remaining
6. Worcester, 70 points, 6 games remaining
7. Reading, 68 points, 6 games remaining

 

*NOTE: The first tiebreaker is ROW (regulation and overtime wins). The Mariners currently hold that tiebreaker over Worcester and Reading, but lose it to Newfoundland, Adirondack, and Manchester, and Brampton.

 

Fun Facts
-The Mariners lead all ECHL teams in wins when trailing after two periods, with 7
-The Mariners lead the ECHL in extra time wins, with 12 (6 OT, 6 SO) and OT/SO win percentage (.800)
-The Mariners are 9-4-0 against Worcester this year, 6-0 in extra time, and 12 of the 13 games have been decided by 2 or fewer goals

CHASE UP, MELANSON DOWN AS MARINERS AND WOLF PACK SWAP FORWARDS

PORTLAND, ME – March 25, 2019 – The Mariners and Hartford Wolf Pack swapped forwards on Monday, as Drew Melanson was reassigned from Hartford to Maine while Greg Chase was loaned to the AHL for the second time this month. Melanson and Chase have flipped spots three times since March 11th.

Chase is the Mariners’ leading goal scorer, getting his 21st and 22nd goals of the season on Friday in a 2-1 overtime win at Worcester. He was initially loaned to Hartford on March 11th, and played in three games with no points and four penalty minutes. Chase has played 100 career AHL games between Oklahoma City, Bakersfield, Springfield, and now Hartford. On March 18th, Chase was returned to Maine, and Melanson was recalled to Hartford a day later.

Melanson, who is under contract with the Wolf Pack, has had three AHL call ups this season, totaling 10 games. He scored his first AHL goal on March 8th in a 3-2 Hartford win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. With the Mariners, Melanson has 12 goals and 17 assists in 45 games, including a two goal performance in his last ECHL on March 17th – a 5-4 shootout win over Newfoundland. Melanson’s three recall dates have been December 21st, February 14th, and March 19th.

This coming weekend features three games in three days – at Reading on Friday, at Adirondack on Saturday, and home against the Thunder Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM. A screening of D2: The Mighty Ducks will immediately follow the game on the video board, free for all fans who purchase tickets to the game. Tickets can be purchased HERE or by calling the Trusted Choice Box Office at 207-775-3458.