By: Tom LaPlante | Follow me on Twitter @tlaplante7
Tuesday was another big day for the Maine Mariners, the ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins, as they announced the signing of not one but two players, in defenseman Nate Kallen and forward Nick Master. It’s a little bit of a “getting the band back together” type move, as both players saw time in Maine during the pandemic-shortened 2019-2020 season. That being said, both were impressive in their short stints at the Cross Insurance Arena and have the potential to be key cogs in Ben Guite’s system during the upcoming season.
Nate Kallen did not sit out the 2020-2021 season, playing in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), a league that promotes many players to the ECHL. As noted above, he also saw 4 games with Rapid City Rush of the ECHL last year, one more than he got with the Mariners in ’19-’20, but not registering a point. Prior to that three-game stint, Kallen played four seasons with the Ferris State Bulldogs, members of the NCAA’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), serving as the team’s captain in ’19-’20 and wearing an ‘A’ the year before. Kallen was named to the school’s All-Decade team in 2019, as his 20 goals were the most by a defenseman during that decade, and he was also named to the WCHA’s All-Academic team in 2017-2018. His next point in an ECHL game will be his first, so after seven games in two years, I’m sure that first professional point will be extra sweet for Nate.
Nick Master took the same path as Nate Kallen did, suiting up in the SPHL for the Knoxville Ice Bears and putting up eight goals and eighteen assists for twenty-six points in thirty-six games. Master joined the Mariners in their inaugural 2018-2019 season, scoring seven points (3G-4A) in eight games at the end of the season after finishing his career at Umass-Lowell. He re-signed for the 2019-2020 season and managed to play six games before a wrist injury ended his season. Master was scheduled to play for the Mariners in 2020-2021, but the North Division opted out of the season, leading to Master joining Knoxville. Hopefully, we get the almost-point-per-game version of Nick Master for an entire season in 2021.
In an interview with Mariners play-by-play announcer Mike Keeley, Master talks about his time in Knoxville, where he’s looking forward to hanging out in Portland during the upcoming season, and that he actually broke the other wrist near the end of the 2020-2021 season playing for the Ice Bears. They joke that he’s gotten both of the wrists out of the way, but one has to hope that Master doesn’t turn out to be injury-prone, and he gets a chance to live up to the potential by staying healthy for an entire season. He clearly has a lot of offensive skills that can be particularly useful in a league like the ECHL, so staying healthy will be key if Master wants to become a fan favorite in Portland.
The 2021-2022 season kicks off October 22 at the Cross Insurance Arena here in Portland, Maine. You can check out Master, Kallen, and the rest of the Mariners by clicking here to visit the team’s website. Individual game tickets go on sale on September 29, but you can get your other ticket packages today on the website, along with all your merchandise needs. Follow me here on the blog and on Twitter for all things Mariners.