Maine Mariners Coach Ben Guite instructs his players during a practice Wednesday at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham prior to Game 3 of their first-round ECHL series against the Reading Royals. The Mariners will try to rebound from a 2-0 series deficit when they play their first home playoff game Thursday night at Cross Insurance Arena. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

After being one of the top teams in the ECHL on the power play in the regular season, the Maine Mariners went 0 for 7 with the man advantage while losing the first two games of their best-of-seven playoff series against Reading.

To get back into the series, the Mariners have to be willing to do the dirty work in front of the net, said Coach Ben Guite.

“You’ve got to fight for your space. It’s playoff hockey. Every inch matters,” Guite said. “Sometimes that means you might be met with a stick or an elbow. You’ve still got to plow through it and get there.”

Game 3 is 7 p.m. Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena. It’ll be the Mariners’ first home playoff game in franchise history. Game 4 is 7:15 p.m. Friday at Cross arena, and if necessary, Maine will host Game 5 at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The Royals won 3-2 in Game 1 and 3-0 in Game 2. Both games were played last week in Reading, Pennsylvania.

“I think we played good defensive games. We didn’t give (Reading) much, but we didn’t generate much,” Guite said. “That’s where we have to be better. It starts with special teams. We went 0 for 7 on the power play. They went 3 for 7. Right there, that’s a big difference. That’s the series so far.”


In the regular season, Maine scored on 24.9 percent (55 of 221) of its power-play opportunities, second-best in the ECHL. Nick Master, who was second on the Mariners in scoring in the regular season with 16 goals and 37 assists in 57 games, said the team has to simplify the power play.

“We’re trying to be a little too cute right now. We’re trying to force things a bit too much. If we simplify it and get back to how it was before, we should be fine,” Master said.

Mathew Santos, Maine’s leading scorer during the regular season, drives to the net during Wednesday’s practice. The Mariners have scored just two goals in their first two playoff games and are 0 for 7 on the power play. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

It’s not that the Mariners aren’t getting off shots. Reading goalie Logan Flodell made 28 saves in Game 1 and 32 in Game 2. The Mariners think they can do more to make Flodell, who had a 2.33 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in the regular season, work harder.

“I think we’ve just got to take his eyes away a little bit. Make more traffic (in front of the net). We’re getting shots, but he’s just seeing them to make that save,” said Mathew Santos, who led Maine with 26 goals and 33 assists in the regular season. “We’ve put a good amount of pucks on him. In any pro league, the first shot, they’re going to make that save. We’ve got to make it difficult on him and try to create a little more havoc in front.”

Added Guite: “The biggest thing is we didn’t give (Flodell) second looks. He makes the first save, and we haven’t been able to play desperate enough to get to that second puck. It’s playoff hockey, and getting into that area is tougher and tougher. We’ve got to work harder to get inside the dots, and to the second pucks in front of the net.”

Who will be in net for the Mariners in Game 3 is unclear. Stefanos Lekkas started Game 1 and made 33 saves. Callum Booth was reassigned to Maine from Providence, the Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate, prior to Game 2 and started in goal. Booth was pulled just under six minutes into the second period after allowing three goals on 11 shots and was replaced by Jeremy Brodeur, son of Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur. Brodeur made nine saves the rest of the game.


All three goalies saw plenty of action with the Mariners in the regular season, and all three are available for Game 3. On Tuesday, Guite declined to reveal who will start Thursday.

“We haven’t made a final decision. I think all three guys give us a chance to win, so that’s not the issue. It’s who we feel gives us the best chance to win at this point,” Guite said.

The Mariners won their final three regular-season games to edge the Worcester Railers for the North Division’s fourth and final playoff spot.

“It was definitely a huge thing for us to make the playoffs, especially how we did it, Master said.

“I know (Reading has) an older team. They have guys who have been through the playoffs. We’re kind of a younger team. Those first two games were kind of a learning curve for us. From here on out, there should be no more jitters. There should be no more anxiousness to the game. We’re just playing hockey again. Those first two games were kind of a wakeup call for us.”

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