PORTLAND, Maine – When someone says, “cawlidge hawkey,” what does one usually think about? I used to think about John Buccigross‘ tweets, but now I’m starting to think more about the roster for the Maine Mariners. Every player that has been signed so far is an alumnus of NCAA hockey, whether that be Division I or III. Coincidence? I think not.
The re-signing of former University of Michigan captain Alex Kile for his third year in Maine last Monday was no surprise to anyone. Kile has been one of the most productive and clutch players for the Mariners over their first two seasons. He’s amassed 71 points in 79 games, including 29 goals. Last year, of his 16 goals, six were game-winning. And of those six, three were in overtime – good for being tied for first in the entire league in overtime goals. He’s also been versatile. He had two shorthanded points last year, and 15 on the power play. It’s a no-brainer that he comes back to Maine for a third year.
Continuing with former collegiate players, the Mariners signed forward Jonathan Desbiens out of NCAA Division I’s Bentley University. Undersized by today’s hockey world standards at just 5-9, Desbiens put up 102 points in 139 games played, including 39 goals, in his four seasons for Bentley. Last season, he recorded 13 goals and 17 assists in 35 games.
From the official Maine Mariners press release for the Desbiens signing, coach Riley Armstrong had this to say about Desbiens, and the NCAA:
“Going to NCAA, they really teach you a defensive mindset… I think he’s going to be an eye-opening forward that we’re bringing in this year. We’re really excited to grab him.”
While it’s great to hear the praise on Desbiens, Armstrong’s notes on the NCAA speaks volumes on how this team will be structured entering the 2020-21 ECHL regular season. It’s safe to expect that there will be a continued emphasis on players that can play with defensive mindsets, but also have offensive potential. This, in turn, will create the core of this team.
Case in point: It’s not a coincidence that every player on this roster has graduated from the NCAA level.
With a plethora of skilled two-way forwards currently signed, this Mariners team is shaping up to have more offensive potential than ever before, but not at the cost of their defensive game. With only one defenseman signed so far, it’ll be really interesting to see who’s next on the defensive front, and if that defenseman is more defensive-minded, offensive-minded, or most likely fits the two-way style the team is shaping up to have.
The Mariners will potentially have help coming from Hartford, too, but it’ll be quite sometime before anyone comes to a conclusion on who or what to expect. At the time of this post, the Mariners were tied for the sixth-fewest players signed in the 2019-20 ECHL offseason. It could be that several upper echelon prospects make pit stops in Maine, especially with uncertainty whether or not the NHL, AHL, and ECHL will all start on time.
However, the Mariners won’t be focusing on that for now. Build that hard-working and defensively-minded ‘cawlidge hawkey’ core now, and add the variables later.
Keep track of all the signings and movement during the 2020 ECHL offseason by visiting our ECHL Transactions page!
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