PORTLAND — A little more than two minutes remained when a delay of game penalty for flipping the puck over the boards in their own end put the Maine Mariners on the defensive.

Sure enough, visiting Worcester called its timeout, pulled its goaltender to put six skaters on the attack against four, and prepared to work for the tying goal. Instead, Maine’s Michael McNicholas won the draw in his own end, and Ryan Culkin unfurled a 200-foot shot that glided into the empty net to secure a 3-1 ECHL victory before a crowd of 5,003 Saturday night at Cross Insurance Arena.

“I won’t lie to you,” Culkin said. “My eyes were probably closed at the time, but I’m a pretty good golfer, so I trusted my putting stroke and I was lucky.”

The victory was Maine’s second in two nights against the Railers, who lost their seventh straight, including Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss in Massachusetts.

McNicholas, in his fourth game since joining the Mariners after opening the season in Norway, snapped a 1-1 tie seven minutes into the third by shoveling a backhand between the legs of Worcester goaltender Evan Buitenhuis after the Mariners had been applying pressure in front of the net.

“In the third, we got more bodies in the paint,” Mariners coach Riley Armstrong said, “and it showed in the chances we were getting.”


Brandon Halverson, tending net for the second night in succession, made 32 saves for the Mariners and kept the game tied through a scoreless second period when the Railers held an 18-12 advantage in shots. Worcester took a 1-0 lead late in the first on a shot from Barry Almeida. Maine countered a minute later with a power-play goal from Scott Savage, set up by the first of two assists from Sean Day.

“We’ve been working hard to get our power play working in the right direction,” Savage said. “We did a good job creating space, and Sean Day made a good pass to me and I tried to get it off as quick as I could, and the goalie couldn’t get there.”

The Mariners wore white Captain America jerseys as part of a military-themed promotion in advance of Veterans Day. They return to action Wednesday against the visiting Orlando Solar Bears.

After going 2-5 in October, the Mariners have earned at least a point in all four November games. They’re 5-5-0-1, with a shootout loss against Reading.

“The young guys are stepping up,” Armstrong said. “Everyone’s adjusting to the league. We kind of knew that coming in, that it would probably take us 10 games to find our stride.”

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