PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Mariners started off their roster-building for the coming season by re-signing forwards Dillan Fox, Ted Hart, and Michael McNicholas.
Fox is set to begin his third season with the Mariners, originally coming to the team on a loan from the SPHL’s Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs in 2018-19, but immediately impressed, earning him a contract for the 2019-20 season. Last season, the 29-year-old Fox and fellow forward Terrence Wallin shared the team lead for goals (23). Fox also played in his first two AHL games, with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
‘Teddy’ Hart as the locals call him, started last year with the SPHL’s Peoria Rivermen, after being cut from the Mariners’ training camp in the preseason. After having six points in five games with Peoria, Hart found himself back up in Maine, and debuted for the Mariners on November 9, 2019, in the process becoming the first Maine-born player to skate for the team in a regular-season game. In the Mariners’ official release, head coach Riley Armstrong had this to say about Hart:
“[He] spent a little time in the SPHL and then found himself on the top line with us. His speed and hard work is what separates him. I feel Ted can be a 20 goal guy in the ECHL.”
Michael McNicholas, the most recent re-signing, is the franchise’s all-time leader in assists (67), points (91), and games played (125). Like Fox, he is returning for his third season with the team. Though McNicholas hasn’t been known as a goal scorer, more of a playmaker, his shooting percentage from last year is still relatively high at 14.7%, which is, ironically, the same shooting percentage as Fox. In a recent interview with Michael Keeley, Media Relations & Broadcast Manager for the Mariners, McNicholas had this to say:
“Going off that confidence that I had near the end of the season… knowing I could score a goal from outside the top of the circles, and trusting my shot, and trusting myself when I have the puck…”
It’s a sign of good things to come. Especially, from an offensive standpoint, for a team that does indeed need more goal-scoring.
The three re-signed players accounted for 44 of the Mariners’ 182 total goals last season, and it’s expected that both of those totals should go up for this season. Fox is a proven scorer at the ECHL level, and Hart and McNicholas have both shown promise in being able to potentially turn into 20-goal guys. The team found themselves in 17th in goals for league-wide, and also had, on average, the fewest shots on goal per game with just 27.55. In turn, the Mariners found themselves with fewer shots per period than their opponents in each period, collectively, this year.
Divisional rivals Newfoundland, Brampton, Reading, and Adirondack all had more goals for than the Mariners. Hopefully, with the consistency of Fox and newfound confidence of Hart and McNicholas, the Mariners will get more of that much-needed goal-scoring in a tightly contested division.
Keep track of all the signings and movement during the 2020 ECHL offseason by visiting our ECHL Transactions page!
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