Cumberland’s Ted Hart, who played for Greely High and Yale University, has signed with the ECHL’s Maine Mariners. Yale University photo

As the youngest brother of a hockey-playing trio from Cumberland, Ted Hart would come to Portland Pirates hockey games and, occasionally, would get a little extra access to the team.

That’s because his older brothers, Kevin and Brian, were playing youth hockey with the sons of Tim Army, the Portland Pirates coach from 2002-05.

“We were very good family friends, so we would come to the games and all kind of run around together,” Hart said. “Sometimes we’d come underneath (the stands) and say hi. It was crazy being there watching them play, and I never thought someday I’d also be out there on the ice they skated on.”

Nearly 15 years later, Hart will get that chance. On Wednesday, the Maine Mariners announced they had signed the 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward out of Yale University to a nonguaranteed standard ECHL contract.

The Hart-Army family connection played a part in Hart’s return to Portland, where the former Greely High standout will try to become the first Maine-born player to skate for the second-year team.

After Hart graduated from Yale, where he played 120 games in four seasons, he reached out to Derek Army, Tim’s son, who is an assistant coach for the Worcester Railers of the ECHL. Hart knew that Derek Army had played for Mariners Coach Riley Armstrong. Army offered to facilitate communication with Armstrong, who also handles player contracts for the Mariners. Before long, Armstrong gave Hart a call.

“He gave me a shot to try out and offered a contract, and I jumped on it,” Hart said.

For Armstrong, the Army family endorsement made a difference. “I respect the Army family 110 percent,” Armstrong said.

Hart will be one of about 30 players in the Mariners’ camp trying to make the 20-man roster.

Ted Hart will get a chance to play pro hockey in his home state with the Maine Mariners. Steve Craig photo

Armstrong said the number of players in camp will be smaller than in the Mariners’ inaugural season. There will be holdovers from last year’s squad that missed a playoff berth by two points. Other players will have been assigned to Portland after cuts are made by the New York Rangers of the NHL and the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolfpack.

“I think in camp, I’ll (need to) bring a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy, and demonstrate that I’m a good skater and prove that I can do whatever it takes to earn a spot, to not necessarily get trapped into one role,” Hart said.

Both of Hart’s brothers played in the ECHL. Brian Hart, 25, played for Kalamazoo and Greenville, as well as the Dundee Stars in Scotland. Kevin Hart, 27, a defenseman, played for Elmira in 2014-15 and had a four-game stint last season with Worcester.

“Having my two older brothers do it before me, that’s helped show me what it takes to keep advancing to another level and what to expect once I get there,” Hart said.

At Greely, Hart keyed the Rangers back-to-back Class B state championship teams in 2012 and 2013. Hart scored a goal in the 2013 state final and was named the 2013 Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year as a junior.

After two years at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, Hart was a regular contributor at Yale, finishing his career with 25 goals and 22 assists.

“Sometimes I was top six on the power play. Sometimes I was more of a grinder role,” he said.

Hart said he believes his skating ability and willingness to adapt to different roles can translate to the pro game.

“I had a somewhat successful college career, but I think I can be an even better pro,” Hart said.

“I’m looking forward to him coming in and turning our heads and standing out,” Armstrong said. “It’s so hard to base a college guy’s career off the amount of points he has.”

Armstrong added, “I think the way Teddy skates, he could be a better pro.”

The Mariners’ roster will be set after the lone exhibition game on Oct. 5. The season and home opener is Oct. 11. Last year, two Maine-born players – Trevor Fleurent of Biddeford and goalie Brian Billett of Brunswick – were in training camp but failed to make the roster.

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