After making the hour-plus drive from Boothbay, Chris Percival settled into his seat in Section Q of a well-populated Cross Insurance Arena on Friday night along with his wife and their 13-year-old son.

He looked out over the ice, at a Maine Mariners team decked out in white jerseys with gold and black trim, same colors as their new parent club in the National Hockey League, the Boston Bruins.

“It’s great,” Percival said of an atmosphere absent for more than 19 months, since professional hockey skidded to a halt in Portland in March of 2020. “It’s like putting on an old pair of comfortable shoes.”

The Mariners rebooted their young ECHL franchise in style, skating to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Worcester Railers Friday night. University of Maine alumnus Eduards Tralmaks scored three goals before an enthusiastic crowd of 4,541 and righted a ship that had begun listing early in the final period.

“I love this building,” said Tralmaks, a native of Latvia whose previous games in Portland with the Black Bears resulted in a two-goal performance against Omaha and an overtime winner against Yale.

“Apparently,” said Mariners Coach Ben Guite, another former Black Bear, “he likes Portland.”

The feeling seems mutual for Portland fans, a few dozen of whom tossed their caps over the plexiglass in homage to the Tralmaks hat trick. As for Tralmaks himself, he would have voted first-star honors to Mariners goalie Jeremy Brodeur, who made 51 saves and somehow guided Maine to a 2-1 lead after an opening period in which Worcester held a whopping 26-10 advantage in shots on goal.

“Right around 60 shots and only three goals let up?” Tralmaks said. “Those hats should be flying out for him, not for me.”

Despite being outshot 54-34, the Mariners never trailed Friday night. Tralmaks provided a 1-0 lead late in the first by poking home a rebound and then scored twice in the third after two quick Worcester goals had tied the game at 3.

Pascal Laberge, Lewis Zerter-Gossage and Mathew Santos also scored for the Mariners, who travel to Worcester for the Railers’ home opener Saturday night. Nick Master and Justin Brazeau each had two assists for Maine.

Nick Albano, Jacob Hayhurst and former UMaine captain Mike Cornell scored for Worcester.

The Mariners led 3-1 after the second period, which ended in a skirmish resulting in off-setting roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to begin the third. Worcester seized momentum when Hayhurst and Cornell scored 25 seconds apart.

Six minutes later, Zerter-Gossage held the puck long enough to set up Tralmaks, who broke his stick on the game-winning shot. Tralmaks then finished off a power play with his third goal, deflecting a Brazeau shot past Worcester goalie Justin Kapelmaster.

Fans endured longer-than-usual lines to enter the arena Friday, thanks to Cumberland County protocols requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for COVID-19 for patrons 12 and older. For younger fans, masks are required.

“There were long lines, but they went smoothly,” Angela Percival said. “They did a really good job working us all through.”

Originally affiliated with the New York Rangers, the Mariners signed a three-year deal with the Bruins in late June, thus completing Portland’s minor-league trifecta of Boston-based parent clubs in hockey, baseball and basketball.

On Friday night, the operatic voice of Bruins mainstay Todd Angilly reverberated throughout the arena for a stirring national anthem. Then came the Worcester barrage against Brodeur.

“It felt a little hectic, I won’t lie,” Guite said. “I don’t think we had our best start, but Jeremy did a tremendous job keeping us in there and the guys stuck together and found a way to win. Sometimes, that’s what you need to get started.”


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