As they approach the quarter mark of their second minor-league hockey season, the Maine Mariners look a lot like the club that fell just short of a playoff berth in its inaugural ECHL campaign.

Through the first 16 games last fall, the Mariners won nine games and lost seven, one by a shootout.

On Tuesday night, in their 16th game of this season, the Mariners rallied to beat the visiting Worcester Railers 5-4 in overtime before a subdued crowd of 1,495 at Cross Insurance Arena. The victory was Maine’s eighth against eight losses, one by shootout.

After Mariners goalie Tom McCollum made two impressive saves in the final two minutes of regulation to prevent a short-handed score, Alex Kile won it late in the fourth minute of overtime, after skaters had been reduced to 3 on 3.

McCollum, burned in the final minute of the first and second periods, finished with 30 saves, none better than a sprawling dive to his right to deny Worcester’s Dante Salituro an open net with 90 seconds remaining in regulation.

“That was a huge save,” Kile said. “That won us the game.”

Ryan Gropp scored twice, including the tying goal on a deflected shot with six minutes left in the third. Morgan Adams-Morgan and Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin also scored. The loss was the sixth straight for Worcester (4-11).

The mood was intentionally quieter Tuesday, billed as a sensory reduced game for autism awareness. Volume on the music and public address system was lower and no horns marked goals, although when Kile swatted his own rebound into the net to end it, a roar erupted as players spilled from the bench for a celebratory scrum.

After dropping two of three in Virginia to a Norfolk squad that had won only two of its first 16 games, the Mariners needed a pick-me-up.

“We weren’t happy with our game in Norfolk,” Kile said. “Coach (Riley Armstrong) really got on us. We had a couple of tough practices and we’re happy to win tonight.”

At the same time, coughing up a lead three times is hardly the recipe for long-term success.

“A lot of times, if you give up four goals in a game, you’re not going to win,” Kile said. “We kind of got lucky (Tuesday night), but I feel like we definitely played a better game than we did in Norfolk.”

The arena will be louder when the Mariners host the Indy Fuel on Friday night and the defending league champion Newfoundland Growlers on Saturday night to complete the first fourth of their 72-game regular season.

One bright spot from Norfolk was the play of Cumberland native Ted Hart, who scored his first two ECHL goals. The first native Mainer to play for the Mariners, Hart was cut in training camp but returned earlier this month after a short stint with Peoria of the SPHL.

On Tuesday night, after leaving 15 tickets for friends and family members, Hart picked up his first assist on a goal by Gropp early in the second period to give Maine a 3-2 lead.

“Tough week for the team, losing twice,” Hart said, “but for myself, I thought I competed and played pretty well and got a little more ice time. Hopefully, I can continue that this week.”

Hart played right wing on veteran Terrence Wallin’s line Tuesday night. A native of Pennsylvania who found a home in Kennebunk, Wallin likes what he’s seen from Hart.

He plays fast and he plays strong,” Wallin said. “I love having him on my wing.”

As for the local flavor, Wallin knows the list of Mainers playing pro hockey isn’t a long one after Biddeford’s Brian Dumoulin (Biddeford) and Kennebunks’ Garnet Hathaway (Washington). Oliver Wahlstrom of Yarmouth is an Islanders rookie with limited NHL time.

It’s awesome to have a guy that’s actually from Maine,” Wallin said. “I feel a sense of pride and I’ve only been here five or six years. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for him, having family here every single night.”

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