It will take more than consecutive losses to rattle Mainer Mariners Coach Riley Armstrong.

After Friday night’s 6-4 loss to the Reading Royals, Armstrong laughed at the notion of being alarmed so early in the ECHL hockey season.

“Probably the only time I panic is when my daughter goes to school without a lunch,” he said of his second-grader, “and she doesn’t have money to pay for a lunch at school. That’s when I panic.”

Two games into a 72-game season? Not so much.

Excepting a three-minute stretch at the end of the second and beginning of the third periods, the Mariners played well enough to win before a crowd of 3,008 at Cross Insurance Arena. In that decisive stretch, Reading scored three times, twice in the final 96 seconds before the second intermission, to take a 5-2 lead.

The Mariners led 2-0 lead early in the second and Reading tied it with help from a four-minute power play. Then, a minute after Maine goalie Chris Nell made a spectacular save to thwart a breakaway by Reading’s Michael Huntebrinker, everything fell apart for the Mariners.

Josh MacDonald tipped a shot past Nell with 1:36 left in the second. Shawn Walsh squeezed one between Nell’s pads with 1.6 on the clock. Thirty seconds into the third, Nell stopped the initial shot from Brayden Low, but accidentally knocked the puck into the net as he grabbed for it in midair.

“I thought our first period was great,” said Armstrong. “We went into the second and we still had a lot of pressure on them, and we kind of let our foot off the gas.”

Down 5-2, the Mariners scrapped back. Four minutes into the third, Drew Melanson circled behind the net and fed Derek Pratt to make it 5-3. Eight minutes later, Garrett Cecere picked himself up after one failed attempt, took a feed from Luke Stork in the high slot and made it 5-4.

With Nell pulled for an extra skater, Huntebrinker’s clearing attempt from behind his goal line went into Maine’s empty net to complete the scoring with 1:18 remaining.

“I really like the way our group responded in the third,” Armstrong said. “That’s how we want to play as a team. We just need to be more consistent and not let up for five minutes.”

Terrence Wallin scored the first period’s only goal by converting the rebound of a shot by Ryan Culkin. Early in the second, Alex Kile buried his rebound after Wallin set him up in the slot to put the Mariners ahead 2-0.

An unusual bounce off the back wall set up Adam Schmidt for Reading’s first goal. A pair of penalties (elbowing, roughing) by Morgan Adams-Moisan led to Reading’s extended power play, and Nick Luukko eventually scored to make it 2-2.

The Mariners (0-2) travel to Worcester Saturday night and play again Sunday afternoon in Portland against Newfoundland.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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Twitter: GlennJordanPPH