The upcoming ECHL season will be the third of existence for the Mariners hockey club. While players from the organization have yet to make it to the NHL, they have been producing a number of exceptional players. In no particular order, the following players are my choices for the three best on the team.
Forward Terrence Wallin started his college hockey career in 2011-12. He did so in Hockey East for the UMass Lowell Riverhawks. During the tenure he spent there, Wallin amassed 50 points while taking the ice in 138 games. Wallin also helped the team to a Frozen Four appearance in 2013.
From U-Mass Lowell, Wallin then went to spend time with the Peoria Rivermen of the SPHL. There, he played in 33 games. Wallin then joined the Adirondack Thunder in their inaugural season in 2015-16. The forward played in 25 games where he recorded four goals along with seven assists. He did so for 11 points. The native of Avon, Connecticut also appeared in nine postseason games.
In 2016-17, Wallin only played in two games with the Thunder and then 10 more with the Peoria Rivermen. This was before joining Rapid City where he scored 12 goals along with 19 assists. He did so through 47 games.
In 2017-18, he played with the Adirondack Thunder again, skating in 59 games with a total of 50 points. He also played in 17 playoff games. That season, he was called up to the AHL where played in four games with the Binghamton Devils.
Wallin then joined the Mariners at the start of the 2018-2019 season. He would play in 41 games with 11 goals along with 19 assists. The forward was also called up to the Hartford Wolf Pack and recorded one assist in 23 games played. He returned to the Mariners hockey club for 2019-20 and skated in 56 games. All in all, the forward has a really solid track record and many Mariners fans look forward to seeing his progress this year.
Dillan Fox, a native of Hummlestown, PA is a very successful forward and has since re-signed with the Mariners for his second season. In the shortened 2019-20 season, Fox was awarded the “Unsung Hero” award for the second year in a row.
This past season he was tied for the team lead in goals and power play goals. Fox is also the franchise’s career leader in both categories its first two seasons of existence. In the shortened 2019-20 season, Dillan also made his AHL debut when he was called up to the Hartford Wolf Pack for two games.
During the Mariners’ inaugural season, Fox played in 37 games where he scored 16 goals along with 10 assists. That made for 26 points. Through the shortened regular season, Fox recorded 23 goals along with 17 assists in 59 games played. As mentioned by Riley Armstrong, assistant GM and head coach of the Mariners, he said of what Fox is capable of, “Dillan has established himself as a core player on this team and a fan favourite in Portland. From being a SPHL player to scoring his first AHL call-up is what we look for in the development of our players.”
Michael McNicholas is also a veteran of the Mariners hockey club. Much like Fox, both were re-signed to play a third year in Maine.
McNicholas, from Redondo Beach, CA, joined the organization in November, 2018. McNicholas began the season in Norway, playing 15 games for the
Manglerud Star. His signing with the Mariners was actually his second stint in the ECHL. He previously saw a stint with the Indy Fuel in 2017-18.
McNicholas returned to New England hockey when he signed with the Mariners to resume his pro hockey career. He previously played collegiate hockey, having spent four seasons with the New Hampshire Wildcats. The best season of his college career came in 2014-15, his junior season. As such, he played 37 games while amassing a total of 43 points.
The forward had a bit of a slow start last season, but as cited by Riley Armstrong, “After having a good chat with him heading into his offseason, we both feel this upcoming season is going to really show the hockey world what type of player he is.”
All in all, McNicholas is definitely a core player on the team and seen as a huge piece of their top six players.