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Bruins, Maine Mariners enter affiliation agreement

The Bruins have a new ECHL affiliation!

The Maine Mariners have announced that they will be the Boston Bruins’ new ECHL affiliate for their upcoming season!

The Bruins have been affiliated with several different ECHL teams throughout the years, including the Reading Royals, South Carolina Stingrays, and Gwinnett/Atlanta Gladiators most recently, but this will be the first ECHL association for the Black and Gold in New England.

This is technically the second time the Bruins will enter an affiliation with the “Maine Mariners,” as that was the Bruins’ AHL-affiliated team from 1987 to 1992 before the team relocated to Providence for the 1992-93 season.

“We are extremely excited to be affiliated with the Bruins organization and we’re proud to solidify the Boston-Portland connection with all three of Maine’s professional sports franchises,” said Mariners President Danny Briere (yes, that same one) in a press release. “We can’t wait to bring live hockey action back to Portland this fall, and we know that Mariners fans will be thrilled to watch players from the Bruins organization playing right here in Maine.”

The Mariners entered the ECHL in 2018 and resurrected hockey in Portland, Maine – two years after the city lost the AHL’s Portland Pirates as that team ultimately fell victim to the AHL’s West Coast expansion. Several AHL teams on the East Coast were either moved to the Pacific Division or swapped with an affiliate’s ECHL club. The New York Rangers and AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack were the Mariners’ parent teams since 2018.

Along with the rest of the ECHL’s North Division, the Mariners opted out of the 2020-21 season. The Mariners open their 2021-22 season at the Cross Insurance Arena on October 22.

The Atlanta Gladiators were affiliated with the Bruins since 2015 for a total of five seasons. The Gladiators renewed their affiliation for one year for the 2019-20 season which was ultimately cut short due to COVID-19 and the team suspended play for the 2020-21 season.

With the Gladiators pulling themselves out of play this past season, Bruins prospects such as goalie Kyle Keyser and defenseman Jack Ahcan spent time with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen. As things are looking more normal heading into next season, it will be nice to have players in the Bruins’ system closer.

The move is a smart one. It keeps prospects in the New England area, and significantly cuts down on travel between the two. And it will likely make transitions from the Mariners to Providence easier. The affiliation benefits the P-Bruins the most, as they’ll be able to pull from a closer pool of players than they did back with Atlanta.

Welcome the Maine Mariners to the Black and Gold fold!