Fresh laundry is nice, but it can’t compete with a good night’s sleep.

The highs and lows of minor-league hockey life were on display Sunday afternoon at Cross Insurance Arena, where the Maine Mariners saw their four-game winning streak end in a 4-1 loss to the Newfoundland Growlers before a crowd of 3,096.

The Mariners were never in this game, falling behind by three goals in the opening period against the ECHL North Division leaders and managing only 17 shots the entire game, or two fewer than they attempted in the first period Saturday night when they beat the Adirondack Thunder 2-1 at Glens Falls, New York.

That game marked the end of a five-game trip that involved a change of time zones, four games in St. John’s against the Growlers, a flight to Montreal, a bus ride to Glens Falls and another bus ride back to Maine that returned the players to their South Portland apartments after 3 a.m. Sunday, meaning heads hit pillows less than 12 hours before the puck dropped Sunday afternoon.

“It’s not easy,” said Josh Couturier, one of five healthy defensemen who suited up for the Mariners. “A lot of us didn’t have our legs. But it’s just part of the grind, something we have to adapt to.”

The Growlers, whose 19-game home winning streak was snapped by the Mariners last weekend, played Friday night in Reading, Pennsylvania, and arrived in Portland on Saturday. They scored twice in the opening five minutes, outshot the Mariners 16-5 in the first period and took a 3-0 lead.

Adam Kile set up Jeff Taylor early in the second period to make it 3-1 but the Mariners got no closer. An insurance goal from Zach O’Brien late in the period restored Newfoundland’s three-goal cushion and the Mariners put only two shots on net in a scoreless third period.

If the Growlers were at all dazzled by the home team’s spiffy uniforms – red, white and blue outfits reminiscent of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Miracle On Ice – it certainly didn’t show.

During breaks in action, clips from the Disney movie “Miracle” played on the video board above the ice, and fans who stuck around after the game watched the entire film.

“Growing up, that was my favorite movie,” said Couturier, who needed five stitches in his chin after being hit with a puck shortly after Newfoundland took a 2-0 lead. “I probably watched it a zillion times.”

Growing up outside of Boston, he knows well the story of Mike Eruzione, the team captain who scored the winning goal when Team USA beat the Soviet Union in Lake Placid in 1980.

“Eruzione grew up in Winthrop, so being able to put this on is pretty cool,” Couturier said, nodding at the white jersey draped over his arm. “I had my dad text me quotes from the movie (Saturday) night, because he watched it with me so much. I was trying to find something to get me fired up.”

As part of an online auction, the Mariners sold the 23 jerseys to the highest bidders and raked in $12,070. That’s the highest total for any themed-jersey auction in franchise history. Prices ranged from a low of $430 to a high of $950 (for Morgan Adams-Moisan, whose No. 32 jersey may have been spattered with some blood from the nose of Newfoundland’s Kyle Froese; a Froese cross check sent Adams-Moisan crashing into the Growlers’ net and set off a minor melee late in the second period).

Jim Couturier, Josh’s dad, was among the successful bidders.

“I told him I wanted it for my birthday,” Josh said.

On March 3, Couturier will turn 25. His present won’t be a surprise, but it will be memorable.

 

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