Maine Mariners, Portland's new ECHL hockey team, sign first player

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New Maine Mariners player Alex Kile. (Submitted photo)

The Maine Mariners are finally starting to take shape.

Portland’s new minor league hockey team announced its first player under contract Friday. Alex Kile, a forward who played four years at the University of Michigan before turning pro in 2017, agreed to terms with the Mariners earlier this week. Terms of the contract were not announced.

“To bring in a player like Alex is a step in the right direction for us in the kind of team we want to build,” Mariners coach Riley Armstrong said. “He’s a leader. He’s great in the community and he’s going to have a big part of the culture in our locker room.”

Kile, who turns 24 in early July, served as captain his senior year at Michigan, then signed an American Hockey League contract with the Rochester Americans. He played in 11 games for Rochester in the spring of 2017 and spent nearly all of the 2017-18 season with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL, with 15 goals and 13 assists in 46 games. He played one AHL game with Rochester.

“He was looking for a fresh start,” Armstrong said. “He’s also going to attend Hartford Wolf Pack camp.”

Hartford is the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers, who are also the parent club of the ECHL Mariners.

“He is a top-end player in the league,” Armstrong said. “We’re going to give him the opportunity to showcase himself. I envision him getting called up and getting more American League games himself.”

A native of Troy, Michigan, Kile plays left wing. In 130 collegiate games, he racked up 40 goals and 40 assists and during his junior season helped Michigan win its first Big 10 tournament title. Before Michigan, he played two seasons of junior hockey with the Green Bay Gamblers, helping them to a Clark Cup championship in 2012.

Armstrong said the Mariners have several more players in the pipeline, including one with local ties. He said he has been in talks with many players and agents.

“Everyone’s trying to sell their guys to us,” he said. “Being a new team and starting from scratch, we have a lot of openings.”

The Mariners open their inaugural season Oct. 13 at Cross Insurance Arena. The team also announced the dates of three games in which they would be wearing special promotional jerseys, including a Wild Blueberries theme for the logo that finished second to Mariners in fan voting. That game will be held March 9. The other two are Nov. 10 (Captain America) and Jan. 5 (original Mariners throwback jersey).

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