The Maine Mariners return 14 players from the squad that reached the ECHL playoffs for the first time since the team’s founding in 2018, but that’s not what anyone wanted to talk about after the first practice of the season ended at Troubh Ice Arena on Tuesday morning. The Mariners have a new head coach, Terrence Wallin, and a pair of newcomers with Maine ties, but nobody wanted to talk about that, either.

The thing on everyone’s mind as they left the ice after the first workout of the season was the slap shot unleashed by defenseman Grant Gabriele, shattering the pane of plexiglass behind the goal just under the window overlooking the ice from the Troubh Arena lobby.

“That was a first for me. I watched the puck hit the glass, and it was an absolute bomb. It’s a good thing to see, that he can shoot the puck like that,” Wallin said. “It’s just so nice to hear the pucks against the glass. It’s nice to hear all the sounds of hockey again.”

The ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins, the Mariners went 33-31-5-3 last season and reached the playoffs for the first time, falling to the Reading Royals in six games in the first round. Maine opens the season Oct. 21 on the road against the Trois Rivières Lions, before hosting the Lions at Cross Insurance Arena on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23.

Approximately a dozen fans were on hand at Troubh Arena on Tuesday morning to watch the Mariners’ first practice. Wallin and the players said they noticed the fans when they took the ice, and it added a spark to the practice.

“I think that goes to show, there’s excitement in the air, excitement in the city. People want to come out. After a couple years of COVID, where you didn’t have as much of a fan experience, it’s nice to see that happen again,” said defenseman Connor Doherty, the Mariners returning captain.


Just 30, Wallin isn’t far removed from his playing days, which included part of 2018-19 and the entire 2019-20 season with the Mariners. Upon retiring as a player, Wallin served as an assistant coach with the Mariners under Ben Guite last season. When Guite left in July to become head coach at Bowdoin College, Wallin was promoted.

“Ben and I view the game very similarly. I’m not going to come in and try and completely change the culture, because I think we had a good one last year,” Wallin said. “You’ll see more of the same from our team on the ice. We’re bringing back 14 guys from last year’s team, and when the leaders can run the locker room, that’s the sign of a good team, and we’re doing that already.”

Falmouth native Alden Weller joined the Mariners this season after spending last season with the Rapid City Rush of the ECHL’s Mountain Division. A defenseman, Weller had two goals and seven assists in 52 games in Rapid City last season, his first professional season after completing a four-year collegiate career at the University of New England in 2021. Weller, 26, connected with Wallin when both worked at youth hockey camps, and signed with the Mariners last month.

“I’m just looking forward to giving my best effort of providing a great product on the ice. This place means a lot to me, so I’m looking forward to moving forward,” Weller said. “It feels good to follow in the footsteps of some great hockey players in the area.”

Forward Mitchell Fossier, who played at the University of Maine, began his first season with the Mariners on Tuesday. After completing his college career in 2020, Fossier played 19 games with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL in 2020-21. Fossier spent last season with HC Banska Bystrica, a professional team in Slovakia, where he scored 15 goals and added 12 assists in 38 games. This summer, Fossier began talking with Guite, who had been an assistant coach at UMaine when Fossier was a Black Bear, about joining the Mariners.

“It was cool. Coming off my first year pro, and it seemed like a good opportunity. It was a good experience, I’m glad I did it, but I’m glad to be back,” said Fossier, who signed with the Mariners in August. “I wanted to come here and give it an honest go. At the time, Ben Guite was coaching here. I was in communication a lot with him. Obviously, he took a different opportunity, but I’m familiar with the area. I love Portland. We got to come here a lot when I was in school. It’s a great city, and I know a lot of guys here, so it’s a good situation.”

The Mariners expect three players under contract to return to the team soon after practicing with AHL clubs. Forward Nick Isaacson is currently with the Springfield Thunderbirds, while forwards Mathew Santos and Tyler Hinam are at camp with the Belleville Senators. Three of the Mariners’ top scorers from last season return, including Santos, who led Maine in scoring last season with 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points.

“We have a lot of returners, which is a good thing. I think our team’s ready to go,” said Nick Master, who had 16 goals and 37 assists for the Mariners last season.

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