Maine Mariners Coach Riley Armstrong watches players race behind the goal during a practice drill in October 2018. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

With the Maine Mariners season canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, head coach and assistant general manager Riley Armstrong has had plenty of time to relax, ski and watch his children play hockey this winter.

But he and his wife, Amber, wanted to do more. So they came up with the idea to hold a skills competition to get hockey back on everyone’s minds and to benefit local businesses and charities in the Portland area.

The Armstrong Skills Competition will be held at 11 a.m. March 12 at The Rink at Thompson’s Point. It will include a puck relay, hardest shot competition and fastest skater contest. Participants will be divided into two age brackets: 16-and-under and 17-and-older. It will cost $15 per event to enter. All participants will be required to wear masks on and off the ice.

All proceeds will support a variety of small local businesses, as well as the Locker Project, a child-hunger program based in Scarborough.

“They have it for the NHL, the AHL and the ECHL,” said Armstrong. “They do skills competitions in all those leagues. But nowhere have we seen where a 15-year-old kid, or a 12-year-old kid, or a 38-year-old guy would have an opportunity to compete in something like this.

“And I think that a big part of it is that we really want to focus on is getting the kids back out playing hockey again and giving back to the city of Portland too. This is something that my wife is very active in, we always want to give back to people who need it the most.”

Armstrong said COVID-19 protocols will limit participation to 40 individuals in each event. He added that half the slots have already been filled.

Armstrong said he has been able to secure a couple of local sponsors for the competition – Jaguar Land Rover in Scarborough and Bissell Brothers Brewery in Portland – as well as prizes for the age division winners of each competition from True Hockey.

The fastest skater winners will receive a new pair of hockey skates, the hardest shot winners will get a new hockey stick, and the puck relay winners will get hockey gloves. Every participant will also receive a gift bag.

Armstrong said he hopes to have several Mariners players attend. “I don’t know if they’re going to participate, but they might with a free pair of skates on the line,” he said. “Heck, I might even sign up.”

More information on the skills competition can be found on the Armstrong Hockey Skills Facebook page or on Instagram at @armstronghockeyskills.


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