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NORTH DIVISION SEMIFINALS PREVIEW

Tuesday, April 18th
NORTH DIVISION SEMIFINALS PREVIEW

For the second postseason in a row, the Maine Mariners will take on the Reading Royals in the North Division Semifinals. It’s their first step in the quest for the Kelly Cup, looking to avenge last year’s series loss, as they fell to the Royals in six games. Last postseason, the Royals were the #1 seed in the North with the Mariners sneaking into the playoffs as the #4. This time around it’s #2 Reading vs. #3 Maine. The two teams also met six times during the 2022-23 regular season, with the same result: the Royals winning four of six. This season’s edition of the Mariners is coming off a historic campaign, in which rookie head coach Terrence Wallin led them to set franchise records in many categories, including points, wins, and road wins. Wallin goes up against former teammate and fellow rookie bench boss James Henry, of Reading.

SERIES SCHEDULE (Best of 7)

Game 1 – Fri, Apr. 21 | 7:00 PM | Santander Arena – Reading, PAGame 2 – Sat, Apr. 22 | 7:00 PM | Santander Arena – Reading, PAGame 3 – Mon, Apr. 24 | 7:00 PM | Cross Insurance Arena – Portland, MEGame 4 – Tues, Apr. 25 | 7:00 PM | Cross Insurance Arena – Portland, MEGame 5* – Weds, Apr. 26 | 7:00 PM | Cross Insurance Arena – Portland, MEGame 6* – Sat, Apr. 29 | 7:00 PM | Santander Arena – Reading, PAGame 7* – Sun, Apr. 30 | 3:00 PM | Santander Arena – Reading, PA

*if necessary

REGULAR SEASON SERIES (Reading won 4-2-0)

Nov., 11, 2022: Reading 5 @ Maine 3-The Mariners jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one, but Reading scored 3 in the 2nd. Maine’s Jacob Wilson tied it in the first minute of the third (his lone goal of the season), but Reading’s Jacob Gaucher responded immediately for the game-winner.Nov. 12, 2022: Reading 4 @ Maine 1-It was a goaltending duel through two periods, tied at 1 until almost halfway through the 3rd. Dominic Cormier scored a PPG and the Royals added a pair of empty netters.Nov. 23, 2022: Reading 3 @ Maine 5-Tim Doherty scored 39 seconds into the game to set the tone on Thanksgiving Eve. Mathew Santos would score twice, including the game-winner late in the 2nd period.Nov. 25, 2022: Reading 1 @ Maine 0-Brody Claeys, in one of only two starts for Reading, posts a 31 save shutout. The only goal of the entire game comes from Will MacKinnon in the final minute of the second period.Dec. 21, 2022: Maine 5 @ Reading 6-An uncharacteristically high-scoring affair at Santander Arena saw the Mariners rally back from a 4-1 deficit to draw even. Alex Kile breaks the Mariners career points record with the game-tying goal. Alec Butcher’s goal at 13:08 of the 3rd is the difference.Jan. 16, 2023: Maine 4 @ Reading 2-Led by Pat Shea’s hat trick, and Fedor Gordeev’s late power play goal, the Mariners get their first win in Reading in over three years. It extends their point streak to 10 games, which eventually reaches and peaks at 11.

LAST SEASON’S PLAYOFF SERIES

Home ice advantage proved to be incredibly important, with the home team winning five of the six games, including each of the first four. The Royals jumped out to the 2-0 series lead, but the Mariners answered back with wins in games three and four. Reading squeaked out the pivotal game five in Portland on a late, tie-breaking power play goal, and returned home to close out the series in six. Mathew Santos and Zach Malatesta were Maine’s scoring leaders in the series, with six points each. Cam Askew and Nick Master also each scored three goals.

HOW THE MARINERS GOT IN

It was a much less stressful road to the playoffs for the Mariners this season than last, when they clinched in the final period of the final game of the regular season. This time around, they cemented their spot on April 2nd in a home game against the Tulsa Oilers, still finding a way to do it in dramatic fashion. Trailing 2-0 heading to the third, the Mariners scored five unanswered goals, led by Tim Doherty’s natural hat trick, officially punching their spot in the Kelly Cup playoffs with a 5-2 win. The Mariners set franchises bests in points (87), point percentage (.604), wins (42), and road wins (23), and their third-place finish was the highest up the North Division ladder that they’ve achieved in four seasons. They had the opportunity to reach the #2 seed and home ice advantage in the first round, which was not determined until the second-to-last day of the regular season, when Reading defeated Newfoundland to lock it up.

ABOUT THE ROYALS

The Royals have made the playoffs for the 15th time in 21 years of existence, a remarkable accomplishment. They were Kelly Cup champions in 2012-13 but hadn’t made it out of the first round since 2016, until last season when they knocked off the Mariners. They had a 3-1 series lead on Newfoundland in the North Division Finals, only to see it slip away, including losses in games six and seven on home ice. Rookie head coach James Henry picked up right where Kirk MacDonald left off, leading the Royals to another 40-win campaign, and the #2 seed in the North. A pair of 30-goal scorers: Charlie Gerard and Max Newton led the Royals offense during the regular season, both finishing in the top-15 of ECHL scoring leaders. Veteran netminder Pat Nagle was tied for 6th in the ECHL with a 2.61 GAA.

AROUND THE KELLY CUP PLAYOFF BRACKET

North Division Semifinal 1: #1 Newfoundland Growlers vs. #4 Adirondack ThunderCentral Division Semifinal 1: #1 Cincinnati Cyclones vs. #4 Fort Wayne KometsCentral Division Semifinal: 2: #2 Toledo Walleye vs. #3 Indy FuelMountain Division Semifinal 1: #1 Idaho Steelheads vs. #4 Utah GrizzliesMountain Division Semifinal 2: #2 Allen Americans vs. #3 Kansas City MavericksSouth Division Semifinal 1: #1 South Carolina Stingrays vs. #4 Florida EverbladesSouth Division Semifinal 2: #2 Jacksonville Icemen vs. #3 Greenville Swamp Rabbits

 

Upcoming Home Games

Full Schedule
Wheeling Nailers
Maine Mariners
Friday, October 18th
Home Opener pres. by Evergreen Credit Union
Puck Drops:
7:15 PM EDT
Cross Insurance Arena
Wheeling Nailers
WHL Wheeling Nailers
at
Maine Mariners
MNE Maine Mariners
Cross Insurance Arena
Wheeling Nailers
Maine Mariners
Saturday, October 19th
Wheeling Nailers @ Maine Mariners
Puck Drops:
6:00 PM EDT
Cross Insurance Arena
Wheeling Nailers
WHL Wheeling Nailers
at
Maine Mariners
MNE Maine Mariners
Cross Insurance Arena
Norfolk Admirals
Maine Mariners
Friday, October 25th
Norfolk Admirals @ Maine Mariners
Puck Drops:
7:15 PM EDT
Cross Insurance Arena
Norfolk Admirals
NOR Norfolk Admirals
at
Maine Mariners
MNE Maine Mariners
Cross Insurance Arena
Norfolk Admirals
Maine Mariners
Saturday, October 26th
Norfolk Admirals @ Maine Mariners
Puck Drops:
6:00 PM EDT
Cross Insurance Arena
Norfolk Admirals
NOR Norfolk Admirals
at
Maine Mariners
MNE Maine Mariners
Cross Insurance Arena
Worcester Railers
Maine Mariners
Sunday, October 27th
Worcester Railers @ Maine Mariners
Puck Drops:
3:00 PM EDT
Cross Insurance Arena
Worcester Railers
WOR Worcester Railers
at
Maine Mariners
MNE Maine Mariners
Cross Insurance Arena
Reading Royals
Maine Mariners
Saturday, November 2nd
Reading Royals @ Maine Mariners
Puck Drops:
6:00 PM EDT
Cross Insurance Arena
Reading Royals
REA Reading Royals
at
Maine Mariners
MNE Maine Mariners
Cross Insurance Arena

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