Portland's new pro hockey team needs a nameBy GLENN JORDAN
Portland Press Herald, Maine
July 18. 2017 10:35PM
Alex Cote has two words for the owners of the ECHL pro hockey franchise coming to Maine for the 2018-19 season: Portland Seafarers.
The longtime hockey fan and former semi-pro player is going to get a chance to pitch his moniker for the team, but he’s also likely to have some competition. On Thursday, officials in charge of running the franchise will hold a news conference announcing, among other things, a contest to name the team formerly known as the Alaska Aces.
Comcast Spectacor purchased the Alaska ECHL franchise and announced plans in June to move it to Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena. The company also owns the Philadelphia Flyers, although the team in Portland will not be an affiliate of the NHL team, which already is associated with an ECHL franchise in Reading, Pa.
So why Seafarers? Cote said the nickname would honor the legacies of both the Portland Pirates and Maine Mariners, the AHL teams that played in downtown Portland before moving elsewhere in New England.
Cote, 73, attended St. Dominic Academy in Lewiston and played semi-professional hockey. He now works as a Maine Guide based in Sinclair, in northern Aroostook County.
Cote no longer plays hockey. He stopped not because of the broken bones or because of his age, but because of restrictions in adult leagues: “No slap shots, no checking,” he said. “That wasn’t fun.”
He still follows hockey, however, and is excited about its professional return to Portland after what will be an absence of two winters.
“Even though it’s still one step down from the AHL,” he said of the ECHL game, “it’s still quality hockey.”
Formed in 1988 as the East Coast Hockey League, the ECHL is considered the third tier of pro hockey in North America, with a talent level below that of the NHL and American Hockey League.
Among those expected in attendance Thursday are ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna, Philadelphia Flyers President Paul Holmgren, CIA Board of Trustees Chair Mitch Berkowitz, Flyers Vice President of Hockey Operations Danny Briere, CIA General Manager Matt Herpich, and Adam Goldberg, recently hired as vice president of business operations for the new ECHL club.
Briere, a former Flyers player, will oversee daily operations for the new franchise and Holmgren will serve as the team’s governor.
Goldberg spent the past four years working as director of business development for the Hartford Wolf Pack, an AHL franchise in Connecticut whose arena, like the CIA, is managed by Spectra, a subsidiary of Comcast Spectacor.
Herpich also works for Spectra.