Coach Riley Armstrong talks with players as the Maine Mariners kick off their training camp on Wednesday at Portland’s Troubh Ice Arena. The team opens its season on Friday Oct. 11 at Cross Insurance Arena. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Zach Tolkinen, who served as captain of the Maine Mariners, doesn’t want a repeat of last season.

At least not the start of last season.

Portland’s minor-league hockey club opened its inaugural campaign with three losses, then wound up missing the ECHL playoffs despite a winning overall record.

“We can’t have that again,” Tolkinen said Wednesday morning at Troubh Ice Arena after directing an intrasquad scrimmage that kicked off training camp for the Mariners, who begin their season Oct. 11 at Cross Insurance Arena against Adirondack. “At the end of the year, we missed playoffs by a couple of points. Every game counts, whether it’s Game 1 or Game 72.”

The majority of the 33 players expected to be in Portland through the weekend spent at least a portion of September skating at an earlier training camp, either in the American or National Hockey League, or both. Five players started with Maine’s NHL affiliate, the New York Rangers, and nine joined them with Maine’s AHL affiliate, Hartford. Players also trickled down to the Mariners from four other AHL camps: Laval, Milwaukee, Lehigh Valley and Hershey.

“We’re excited to work together as the Maine Mariners, regardless of where guys are coming from,” Tolkinen said. “On paper, we look very good. But you don’t win games on paper.”

Prior to Wednesday’s informal scrimmage, the eight position players making their first appearance at a training camp skated through a timed conditioning drill overseen by Mariners Coach Riley Armstrong and assistant Anthony Bohn. Included in that group was Cumberland native Ted Hart, who played at Greely High and is a recent graduate of Yale.

Hart is hoping to become the first Maine native to suit up for the Mariners. His older brothers, Brian and Kevin, have played minor-league hockey, Kevin in the ECHL and Brian in the ECHL and AHL.

Cumberland’s Ted Hart hopes to become the first Maine native to play for the ECHL’s Maine Mariners. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

“I’ve played in this arena so many times, and the Cross Insurance Arena, so it’s pretty cool to get a chance to play there again,” Hart said. “There’s a lot of guys on the ice, a lot of good players here, but it’s fun.”

The training camp roster includes 18 forwards, 11 defensemen and four goalies. Armstrong expects another player or two from Hartford, which has yet to make its final cuts. After practices Thursday and Friday morning, the Mariners will play an exhibition game Saturday against Worcester in Exeter, N.H. The practices and the game are free and open to the public.

The Mariners must trim their active roster to 21 next week. After a month, that number drops to 20. Two players can be placed on reserve, along with an unlimited number on injured reserve.

The five potential Mariners who spent time in Rangers camp are forwards Jake Elmer, Dawson Leedahl and Ty Ronning and goalies Tom McCollum and Francois Brassard. Goalie Connor LaCouvee, forward Morgan Adams-Moisan and defenseman Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin took part in Montreal’s rookie camp.

Jonathan Racine, who played for the Portland Pirates before that AHL franchise left town in 2016, is among the defensemen in camp.

“I had a good time when I was here in Portland,” Racine said. “That’s why I decided to come back, because I know the city and I know everyone around the rink. So it’s pretty fun to be here.”

Armstrong and Bohn didn’t stick around for the scrimmage, preferring to allow players to skate freely before evaluations begin Thursday morning.

“I think we know what to expect going into this camp,” Armstrong said. “At last year’s training camp, we didn’t really know any of the guys. Hopefully, we can develop players who will move up to the American League and also put a winning product on the ice.”

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