For a second straight winter, Portland with be without professional hockey at Cross Insurance Arena.

An effort to bring in an ECHL franchise to replace the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates, who were sold and relocated to Springfield, Massachusetts, last spring, is no longer focused on the 2017-18 season.

The ECHL board of directors is scheduled to meet next week at the league’s All-Star Classic in Glens Falls, New York. Any application for expansion or relocation for next season would have to be addressed at that meeting.

“We have not received anything from anyone representing Portland,” said the ECHL director of communications, Joe Babik, of the league originally formed as the East Coast Hockey League but now stretching across the continent.

Godfrey Wood and Brad Church, both with longstanding ties to pro hockey in Portland, announced a partnership last May to build a team of investors that could land an ECHL franchise, and retain the Pirates name and original logo. On Wednesday, both said they remain hopeful but that Church, for one, has moved on to other ventures.

Earlier this month, Church, a former Pirates player who most recently served as chief operating officer of the AHL club, purchased two Aging Excellence franchises in Kennebunk and Augusta.


“I learned pretty early in my career that being a hockey player doesn’t last forever,” said Church, who described his new business as non-medical, in-home services for seniors. There are eight franchises in Maine and one in New Hampshire.

Church, the assistant boys’ hockey coach at Cheverus High as well as head coach for a youth team, said he will continue to support any effort to bring back pro hockey to Portland.

“I think it has the potential to be successful with the right people involved at all levels,” he said. “I’m hopeful it comes back, for the community. There’s thousands of youth hockey players here and hundreds of small businesses that rely on the team downtown.”

Wood, general manager and president of the Pirates during their first three seasons and former chief executive officer of the Portland Regional Chamber, said he continues to work “with one entity which has a very strong interest in” a Portland ECHL franchise for the 2018-19 season.

He declined to name the entity and wanted to make it clear that his role “is just trying to get hockey back in Portland,” he said. “I’m not looking to make money on this or be involved in the ownership group.”

Wood said the interested entity asked him, “if I had local people who would like to be partners in the venture and I told them absolutely, yes.”


By missing a deadline for possible inclusion on next winter’s ECHL schedule, any new ownership group would have a few months to prepare for a 2018 opening.

“Ideally, if someone wants to do this,” Wood said, “they would probably look to open an office in early spring in 2017, and start setting up a business and selling sponsorships, group tickets, all that sort of thing.”

Wood said he didn’t think the absence of pro hockey in downtown Portland for another full year would be a problem.

“I think there’s a ton of serious fans who want it back and business partners to sponsor and support it,” he said. “It’s just a matter of pulling all the pieces together.”

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