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1977-1992 Maine Mariners

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Pelle Lindbergh Maine MarinersAmerican Hockey League (1977-1992)

Born: 1977 – AHL expansion franchise
Moved: May 22, 1992 (Providence Bruins)

Arena: Cumberland County Civic Center

NHL Affiliation:

  • 1977-1983: Philadelphia Flyers
  • 1983-1987: New Jersey Devils
  • 1987-1992: Boston Bruins

Team Colors:

  • 1977-1987:
  • 1987-1992:

Owners:

Calder Cup Champions: 1978, 1979 & 1984

 

The Maine Mariners were a popular minor league hockey club that played for 15 seasons at Portland’s Cumberland County Civic Center. The Mariners’ glory years came in the late 1970’s and early 80’s as the top farm club of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. Maine won the American Hockey Leagues’s Calder Cup in each of their first two seasons. Future Flyers stars such as Pelle Lindbergh, Ken Linseman and Pete Peeters developed in Portland.  Maine led the AHL attendance for four straight seasons from 1979 through 1982.

Maine MarinersA special thrill of the Flyers era was the annual December exhibition game against touring Soviet teams. The contests packed in standing room only crowds and (usually) brought out the best in the Mariners. The first Cold War in December 1977 saw the two-month old Mariners shock Moscow Dynamo 1-0. In 1978, the Mariners beat up on Traktor Chelyabinsk 6-3.

On Christmas Eve 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Detente was over and, with it, the annual Soviet hockey tours of America of the 1970’s. But a Russian touring squad known as the Moscow Selects was already in the States on tour. Two days after the invasion, the Selects came to Portland. A franchise record crowd of 7,095 packed the Civic Center. For the first time, the Russians got the best of Maine, pasting the locals 7-2.

In the summer of 1983 the Philadelphia Flyers sold the Mariners to the lowly New Jersey Devils. The Mariners won their third and final Calder Cup in April 1984, capping off their first winter as a New Jersey farm club. But ultimately the sale to the Devils’ organization marked the start of the club’s decline. During the 1986-87 season, the Mariners bottomed out at a franchise-worst 3,361 fans per game. The Devils shifted the money-losing club to Utica, New York in April 1987.

Team President Ed Anderson quickly organized a group of investors to restore hockey to Portland. The AHL approved a new Maine Mariners franchise during the summer of 1987, affiliated with the nearby Boston Bruins. The Mariners retained their traditional Flyers’ colors of orange, black and white even during the Devils’ era. But with the arrival of the new franchise and the Bruins partnership in the winter of 1987, the Mariners shifted to Boston’s black, white and gold color scheme.

The Bruins era failed to recapture the on-ice glory of the Flyers years. The black-and-gold Mariners posted only one winning season (1987-88) in five years. The economic recession of the early 1990’s and Maine exorbitant workers compensation costs squeezed the club financially. The Mariners shut down their Maine operations in April 1992 and moved to Providence, Rhode Island a month later, where they play on today as the Providence Bruins.

 

Maine Mariners Memorabilia

 

Maine Mariners Video

1989 Mariners TV commercial

 

In Memoriam

Goaltender Pelle Lindbergh (Mariners ’80-’82) died on November 11th, 1985 from injuries suffered the previous night while driving drunk. Lindbergh won both AHL Rookie-of-the-Year and Most Valuable Player honors with Maine in 1981. He won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s most outstanding goalkeeper of the 1984-85 season several months prior to his death. He was 26.

E.J. McGuire, the Mariners final head coach (’91-’92) died of cancer on April 7, 2011 at age 58.

 

Links

A major among the minors“, Kathy Blumenstock, Sports Illustrated, February 18, 1980

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs

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Maine Mariners vs. New Haven Nighthawks. May 15, 1978

2 comments

Guy Delparte Maine MarinersMaine Mariners vs. New Haven Nighthawks
Calder Cup Finals, Game 5
May 15, 1978
Cumberland County Civic Center
Attendance: 6,966

American Hockey League Programs

 

Great old game day program from the 5th and deciding game of the 1978 Calder Cup Finals, the championship of the American Hockey League.  The Maine Mariners were a new franchise in the AHL in 1977 and they enjoyed a charmed first season at Portland’s new $8 million Cumberland County Civic Center.  The Philadelphia Flyers’ farm club finished with the best record in the AHL during the regular season (43-28-9) and regularly jammed the Civic Center with big crowds.

After dropping Game One of the Finals to the New Haven Nighthawks at home on May 5th, the Mariners reeled off three straight to earn the chance to clinch at home in Game Five. A record crowd of 6,966 filled the Civic Center.  Tied 4-4 late, Maine right wing Tom Gorence tipped a slap shot by Norm Barnes over the head of New Haven goaltender Doug Soetaert with 5:27 remaining to seal the cup for the locals.

Maine’s rookie goaltender Pete Peeters, a late-season promotion from Milwaukee of the International League, backstopped the Mariners for all five games of the Finals series.  Peeters later became an NHL regular with the Flyers in 1980 and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender as a member of the Boston Bruins in 1983.

Maine and New Haven would meet again the following spring in a Calder Cup Finals rematch.  The Mariners swept the Nighthawks in four straight in 1979 to repeat as AHL champions.

Minor league journeyman Guy Delparte is pictured on the cover of the evening’s SCORE game program.

 

==Links==

New Haven Nighthawks Home Page

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Written by AC

October 25th, 2015 at 8:01 pm

May 14, 1981 – Adirondack Red Wings vs. Maine Mariners

2 comments

George LyleAdirondack (NY) Red Wings vs. Maine Mariners
1981 Calder Cup Championship Series – Game 3
May 14, 1981
Glens Falls Civic Center
Attendance: 5,175

American Hockey League Programs
76 pages

 

The Adirondack Red Wings and the Maine Mariners met in the 1981 Calder Cup finals to determine the champion of the American Hockey League.  The Mariners were the top farm club of the Philadelphia Flyers at the time.  The Mariners had a youthful roster, featuring a number of players who would see substantial time in the NHL in the 1980’s – Greg Adams, Lindsay Carson, and, most notably, the 21-year old Swedish goaltender Pelle Lindbergh.  Lindbergh took the AHL by storm during his first year in America, winning both Rookie-of-the-Year and Most Valuable Player honors.

Adirondack was the top minor league affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings and their roster had an entirely different look.  The Red Wings were stocked with NHL and World Hockey Association veterans on the downside of their careers.  Goaltender Wayne Wood played parts of  five seasons as a WHA back-up.  34-year old defenseman J.P. LeBlanc spent a decade in the NHL and WHA starting in 1968.  Pete Mahovlich scored 288 goals in the NHL, including back-to-back one hundred point seasons with Montreal in the mid-1970’s.

Another Red Wings vet was left winger George Lyle, who appeared on the cover of the evening’s game program.  Lyle was the World Hockey Association’s Rookie-of-the-Year in 1977, after scoring 39 goals for the New England Whalers in his first season out of Michigan Tech.  He split the 1980-81 season between Adirondack and Detroit, appearing in 40 games for the big club.

A capacity crowd of  5,175 packed the Glens Falls Civic Center.  Lyle was a fortuitous choice for the program cover.  Four minutes and nine seconds into the game, Lyle beat Pelle Lindbergh off an assist from Greg Joly to Adirondack up 1-0.  The score held up as Lindbergh turned Adirondack’s other 35 shots.  Wayne Wood was even better for the Red Wings, making 29 saves to post his first shutout of the season.

The win put the Red Wings up two games to one in the best-of-seven series.  The Mariners struck back two nights later in Portland, hanging a 10-1 defeat on Adirondack.  But the Red Wings’ veteran experience ultimately won out, and Adirondack clinched the series in Game 6 back in Glens Falls on May 20, 1981.

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The Adirondack Red Wings played 20 seasons in Glens Falls, New York from 1979 to 1999.  The club went dark after the 1998-99 AHL season.  AHL hockey returned to the Glens Falls Civic Center in 2009 with the arrival of the Adirondack Phantoms, relocated from Philadelphia.

The Maine Mariners played in Portland from 1977 to 1992.  The Flyers pulled out in the mid-1980’s and the Mariners became a Boston Bruins farm club.  The franchise moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1992. The Providence Bruins continue to serve as the Boston’s top affiliate to this day.

Pelle Lindbergh seemed destined for stardom in the NHL with the Flyers.  He earned All-Rookie team honors during the 1982-83 season and won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender in 1984-85.  On November 10, 1985 Lindbergh smashed his Porsche into a wall in Somerdale, New Jersey in a drunk driving incident.  He was declared brain dead and removed from life support the following day.  Lindbergh was posthumously named to the 1985 NHL All-Star Team.

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