If nothing else in his professional hockey career, Alex Kile has learned to pack light.

On Tuesday morning, Kile was at Troubh Ice Arena in Portland with the Maine Mariners for their first practice of the season. Under contract with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, an AHL team one level above the Mariners’ ECHL. Kile already spent a week in camp with the Phantoms, playing in two preseason games before being assigned to Maine.

“Don’t bring too many things. If you have to buy clothes in the city you’re in, you can buy them,” said Kile, the longest-tenured Mariner who joined the team in 2019-20 in its second season. “I’ve definitely had a hectic seven years pro now, and I’m used to it. I love it.”

After spending the last two seasons hopping between Maine and Lehigh Valley, Kile, 29, is one of just nine of the 24 players in camp with the Mariners who saw any time with the team last season.

The Mariners went 42-27-2-1 last season, the team’s best record in its four-season history, before falling to the Reading Royals in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

“(Monday) night, our message was that we need to find another mountain to climb. Two years ago, we squeaked into the playoffs but got bounced in the first round. Last year we had a really good regular season but got bounced in the first round,” said Terrence Wallin, entering his second season as coach after serving as an assistant in 2021-22.

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“It’s important that we find something else to motivate us this year, and I don’t think the returners want to get bounced in the first round. I think they want to take that next step.”

Maine opens the season Oct. 20 at Trois-Rivières in Quebec. The Mariners host Trois-Rivières the next night, Oct. 21, at 6 for their home opener at Cross Insurance Arena.

The top four scorers from last season’s team are gone, with Reid Stefanson the top returning scorer coming off a 22-goal, 25-assist season. Kile averaged just over a point per game in 36 games with Maine last season, scoring 15 goals and 22 assists. In 19 games with the Phantoms last season, Kile had two goals and two assists.

“I would say I’m more offensive here and take more risks. When I’m up there (with Lehigh Valley) I play a little more conservative. I don’t play as much when I’m up there. I’m focusing more on making less mistakes up there,” said Kile, who got married in June.

One of the newcomers with a unique tie to Portland is forward Tyler Drevitch, whose father, Scott Drevitch, played for the original Maine Mariners from 1988 to 1990, when the club was the AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins.

“He told me what a great hockey city it is, and a great city in general. He said (the arena) was rocking back in the day, and it’s probably still rocking today,” said Drevitch, 28. “I’m excited to see the crowds, see the city, and he didn’t have any bad things to say about it. He tells a lot of stories from here. That’s where he started his career, so it’s kind of cool it’s come full circle.”

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A former collegiate player at Merrimack, Drevitch spent last season with the Wheeling Nailers, scoring 18 goals and 15 assists for his best season since turning pro in 2020. Drevitch said he’s looking forward to playing for Mariners, a team he admired from afar last season.

“There was a lot of energy on the ice. I’m excited to get going with this group and see where it takes us. I’m looking to keep improving and keep climbing the ranks. I want to win a championship, and I want to win bad. Bring some scoring touch, bring some grit, be hard to play against and do whatever I can to help this team win,” Drevitch said.

Wallin said he likes having so many new players this season. That said, he’ll look to the returning players for leadership.

“Having AK (Kile) here is huge,” Wallin said. “Having played with him, I was on a line with him for two years so I know what he’s all about. I know the passion he brings, the fire he brings to the locker room.

“It’s needed. You need guys like that to be your best. You look at Andrew Peski, (captain) Connor Doherty, Cam Askew, they’re all really good leaders we’re going to lean on this year.”

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