Cumberland’s Brian Hart, left, and his brother, Ted, have become mainstays in the lineup for the Maine Mariners. Ted signed with the Mariners in November and was the first native Mainer to play for the ECHL team. Then he was joined Brian, who was added to the roster in early January. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Late in the third period of Sunday afternoon’s ECHL game, Cumberland native Ted Hart intercepted a breakout pass and found himself alone in the slot with the puck on his stick.

The Maine Mariners trailed by a goal and Hart had no one to beat except the opposing goalie.

“I tried to get it off quick and missed the net,” Hart said. “It was a bad time to miss the net.”

The Mariners never got the equalizer as they lost 3-2 to the Brampton Beast before a crowd of 2,619 at Cross Insurance Arena.

The loss ended a six-game point streak for the Mariners, who also dropped into fourth place in the North Division.

Even so, the team has been on the upswing lately, with a five-game winning streak that ended in overtime Saturday night helping solidify contention for one of four North Division playoff spots.

When Hart joined Maine in early November, the Mariners lingered in fifth place. In early January, his older brother, Brian, signed on. After dropping five of six with both brothers on board, Maine has won nine of 14, and earned two more points from overtime losses.

John and Ellen Hart of Cumberland watch their son, Ted, play Sunday for the Mariners against the Brampton Beast. Another son, Brian, is also on Maine’s roster but didn’t play Sunday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

“One thing we have to make clear,” said Danny Briere, the Mariners’ vice president of operations, “is that the Harts, both of them being on the team, is not a favor. They earned it. They are playing the right way.”

Sunday marked the team’s third game in three days, so Brian, 26, was a healthy scratch for only the third time since he joined the club after finishing up requirements for his degree in history at Harvard University. In 16 games, he has three assists.

Ted, 23, has nine goals and eight assists in 37 games. On Sunday, he drew a penalty that led to Maine’s first goal, a power-play conversion in the second period from Jake Elmer that touched off a celebration of underwear tossed onto the ice, thanks to a promotion benefitting Preble Street Teen Services.

“When I played,” said Briere, a 17-year NHL veteran, “I always tried to tell myself, it’s not just about the goals and assists that you get. It’s about how many chances you get. When the chances dry up, that’s when you start to get worried.

“In Ted’s case, he’s creating chances all over the ice, left and right. And that’s what we’re looking for him to keep doing, because he makes a difference.”

It’s certainly been a different winter for Ellen and John Hart. They haven’t had to travel to Elmira, New York; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Greenville, South Carolina; or even Scotland to see their sons play pro hockey.

The oldest Hart brother, Kevin, is now 28 and playing in a Boston men’s leagues after a career that included four years at Providence College, one ECHL season in Elmira (where he roomed with current Mariners captain Zach Tolkinen) and two seasons in Dundee, Scotland.

Brian, a second-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2012 before enrolling at Harvard, played for Syracuse of the American Hockey League after three college seasons and also spent time in the ECHL before following Kevin in Dundee.

Ted Hart didn’t factor into the scoring Sunday in a 3-2 loss to the Brampton Beast at Cross Insurance Arena, but he needs just one more goal to reach double figures in his first season with the Maine Mariners. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Ted, who was cut from Mariners training camp after a four-year career at Yale, opened this season with Peoria of the Southern Professional Hockey League. Upon returning to Maine, he moved into a team-provided apartment with backup goalie Francois Brassard.

Brian has opted to live at home with his parents.

At Friday’s game, a 2-1 Mariners victory over Worcester, a few Greely alumni waved homemade signs reading Brian ♥ and #41.

“It was up top and they had beers going,” Brian said before learning they had been contemporaries of Kevin, “so I didn’t really know who they were.”

Growing up, hockey may have been the favorite sport for the Harts, but it wasn’t the only sport. All three boys played soccer, and Kevin continued with baseball at Greely.

“They didn’t specialize until they were well into high school,” Ellen said. “I felt that learning different skill sets, being around other kids and having different coaching experiences was important.”

Last winter, as a favor to childhood buddy and former Worcester Railers assistant coach Derek Army (son of former Pirates coach Tim Army), Kevin Hart filled in for four games at defense when the Railers were short-handed.

If the Mariners find themselves in a similar predicament, Briere and head coach Riley Armstrong know how to reach Kevin.

“Hey, you never know,” Briere said. “We’ve seen weirder things happen. But it’s definitely a plus to have brothers on the same team.”

Until this winter, the last time Ted and Brian played together was in middle school, when they were in sixth and eighth grade. Brian and Kevin played on Greely’s first state championship team in 2009 when Brian was a freshman and Kevin was a senior.

“It’s been a blast for me,” Ted said. “It’s great having Brian in the locker room. The guys really love him. It’s something we’ve been trying to do for our whole lives, play together, so it’s fun that we could do it here.”

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