Minor league hockey returns to Portland

Hockey fans in Maine have something to celebrate.A professional team will return to Portland.

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Hockey pucks are coming back to Portland in 2018. The arrival of an ECHL hockey team will be welcome news to sports fans and Old Port businesses alike.

Downtown Portland has been generally been pro hockey-less following the departure of the AHL's Portland Pirates for Springfield, MA in 2016. There have been occasional visits by the UMaine Black Bears to keep the Zamboni crews active though.

"This is a great day for sports fans here in Portland...We're excited about adding 36 nights of affordable, family-friendly, entertainment to an already vibrant event calendar." - Spectra Divisional Senior VP Mike Scanlon

The ECHL team coming to Maine is relocating from Anchorage, Alaska. According to the Alaska Dispatch, the Alaska Aces were having "mounting financial losses."

The acquisition, ownership, and relocation of the Aces will happen under Cross Insurance Arena operator Comcast Spectacor -- a subsidiary of Comcast/NBCUniversal. Spectacor plans to try an affiliate the new Maine team with National Hockey League (NHL) but the arrangement will not include prospects that are current prospects that are already involved with an existing player pipeline between the Reading Royals and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Spectacor has been involved with professional hockey in Maine for a generation. In 1977, the company purchased rights for an AHL expansion franchise which became the storied Maine Mariners hockey team. The Mariners won 3 Calder Cups before being replaced by the Pirates in 1992.

"It's a great game and I think the people of Maine have come to love it and the youth hockey has grown by leaps and bounds so I think it's a win-win," said Steve Tsujiura, a former centerman for the Maine Mariners in the 80s. "If [the name the team] the Maine Mariners, so be it,  that would be awesome."

The name of the Portland's new ECHL team has not been chosen.

 

 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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