The fourth season of Maine Mariners hockey could be summed up in many ways, but simply put: it was one for the record books. It was a season that saw the Mariners break franchise records and hit milestones on and off the ice, from the very beginning to the very end. The playoffs brought an unfortunate tone of déjà vu, as history repeated itself in the form of a six-game first round defeat against the Reading Royals, but the familiar finish should take nothing away from the historic, record-setting season that it was.
The beginning of the 2022-23 campaign was marked by a coaching change, for the second consecutive summer. Ben Guite departed the Mariners after one season to accept the head coaching job at Bowdoin College, paving the way for Terrence Wallin to complete his rise from player to bench boss in a span of five years. Wallin, who was Guite’s assistant in 2021-22, was officially named the third head coach in Mariners history on July 27th, 2022.
Wallin made his head coaching debut on October 21st, 2022, as the regular season began in Trois-Rivieres, QC against the Lions. It would be a memorable night for Wallin, who watched his team come from behind to start the season with a 4-3 overtime win. The following night at the Cross Insurance Arena marked the first of three sellouts on the season, foreshadowing a record-breaking year at the gate. On the ice, the Mariners got off to a rough start at home, going 2-7-0 in Portland through October and November. However, an elite road record would keep them afloat.
Just before the holidays, the Mariners would go viral, when Francois Brassard became the first goaltender in franchise history to score a goal, sending one all the way down the ice and into an empty net on December 18th at Adirondack. As they emerged from the break, the Mariners caught fire, going on a franchise-best 11-game point streak from Dec. 28 – Jan. 21. The streak began when the Mariners blew out the Worcester Railers on December 28th, 9-3, in the first meeting of the season with their rivals. The game featured dueling hat tricks from Tim Doherty and Alex-Olivier Voyer. Two nights later, Mitch Fossier would join the hat trick fun, leading the Mariners to a thrilling win over Trois-Rivieres. Sellout #2 of the season took place on January 6th, with Fossier in a heroic role once again, scoring in overtime to cap a Mariners comeback. A perfect 5-0 road trip would follow, giving the Mariners another franchise record with 7 wins in a row, and cementing them as one of the league’s best road teams.
February was an up-and-down month, bookended by a pair of challenging road trips to Newfoundland and Idaho. Within the month, Francois Brassard and Michael DiPietro posted back-to-back shutouts of the Trois-Rivieres Lions, highlighting a great season between the pipes for Maine’s goaltending duo. On March 1st, the Mariners hosted their first ever Education Day game, thrilling thousands of Maine-area students in a 5-3 win over Newfoundland. Mid-March was a rocky stretch for the team, dropping five in a row and six of seven, but a trip down south would refocus them. Picking up wins in three of their four games in Orlando, Atlanta, and South Carolina had them returning home feeling good. As March turned to April, they won two of three at home against the Tulsa Oilers to secure their spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the second year in a row.
On April 9th, the Mariners won their 40th game of the season, defeating Adirondack, 5-3. In the game, Fossier scored nine seconds into the first period, marking the fastest opening goal the Mariners had ever scored. One final record-setter was on the horizon on the season’s final day, when the Mariners scored 10 against the Norfolk Admirals, breaking their best single-game goals mark. Listed below are all the records and milestones that the Mariners hit in 2022-23:
October 22nd, 2022 – The Mariners achieve their first ever sellout in the home opener vs. the Trois-Rivieres Lions.
December 18th, 2022 – Francois Brassard scores an empty net goal in Glens Falls, NY against the Adirondack Thunder, becoming the first ever Mariners goaltender to score a goal, and the 14th in ECHL history.
December 21st, 2022 – With a goal at Reading, Alex Kile’s 92nd career point puts him past Michael McNicholas to break the franchise career points record.
January 1st, 2023 – Kile scores a goal at home against Worcester to break the Mariners career goals record, his 40th to pass Dillan Fox.
January 11th, 2023 – In a 7-2 win at Norfolk, Kile registers his 100th point as a Mariner, becoming the first player to do so.
January 21st, 2023 – With a 3-1 win at Worcester, the Mariners win their 7th straight game, and extend their point streak to 11, both franchise records.
February 11th, 2023 – The Mariners shut out the Trois-Rivieres Lions 4-0 for their 17th road win of the season, a new franchise best.
March 17th, 2023 – Alex Kile completes the record trifecta, passing Michael McNicholas for first on the Mariners career assists leaderboard, getting #68 against Worcester. He and Nick Master would finish the season tied atop the list at 73.
March 18th, 2023 – Tim Doherty picks up his 41st assist of the season in a road win at Worcester, breaking the single-season record, previously held by Michael McNicholas.
March 22nd, 2023 – Alex Kile notches his 200th ECHL point with a goal at Orlando. In the same game, Tim Doherty breaks the Mariners single-season points record, getting #60 and passing Mathew Santos’ 2021-22 total.
March 26th, 2023 – In the Mariners’ road trip finale at South Carolina, Nick Master skates in his 126th career game as a Mariner, setting a new franchise record. Connor Doherty also skates in his 300th pro game.
April 2nd, 2023 – On the same night that they clinch a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Mariners win their 38th game of the season, setting a new franchise record.
April 9th, 2023 – The Mariners defeat Adirondack, 5-3 for their 40th win of the season. Mitch Fossier scores the fastest goal in team history, just nine seconds into the game.
April 16th, 2023 – In the finale of the regular season, the Mariners score 10 goals in a 10-2 win over Norfolk, the most they’ve ever scored in a single game.
Along with their three sellouts, the Mariners achieved the largest year-over-year attendance increase in the ECHL, boosting their average crowd size from 2851 to 3789 (33%). Needless to say, that was also a franchise record, as was the team’s season ticket sales, group ticket sales, and overall revenue. Two more thrilling games were in store for the playoffs, with Alex-Olivier Voyer’s Game 3 overtime winner serving as the moment to remember. The Mariners would win Game 4 to tie the series, before Games 5 and 6 went to the Royals, completing the identical pattern of 2022. Failing to make it to the second round of the playoffs was about the only step forward the Mariners didn’t take in 2022-23. But the season’s end isn’t the way the 2022-23 Mariners will be remembered. It was a season of excellence, a season of growth, a season of broken records. A historic season by every measure.