Ben Guite Will Make his Head Coaching Debut with Maine Mariners

Larry Mahoney, Bangor Daily News, Maine

Head coach Ben Guite is looking forward to his debut as the season opener of the ECHL’s Maine Mariners this Friday night.

The team will open its regular season against the Worcester Railers on Friday at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland at 7:15 p.m. and Saturday in Worcester at 7:35 p.m.

Guite, who was a key player on the University of Maine’s second and last NCAA title team in 1998-99, is making his debut as head coach of the Mariners after eight seasons as an assistant and then associate head coach for the Black Bears.

Guite just got a trial run with two exhibition games against Worcester this past weekend. The Mariners and Railers split the contests with Worcester winning on Friday night 5-3 at The Colisee in Lewiston and Maine rebounding for a 3-1 win in Worcester, Massachusetts, on Saturday.

The Mariners are affiliated with the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins while the Railers are the affiliate of the New York Islanders.

Two of his former UMaine players, Brendan Robbins and Eduards Tralmaks, scored for him as speedster Robbins scored a goal in each game and Tralmaks lit the goal lamp in the second game.

The 43-year-old Guite said he was a little nervous on Friday night “because even though nothing is at stake, you want your team to play well and you want to win.”

It wasn’t a major transition from being an associate head coach to a head coach because he said the late UMaine head coach Red Gendron “used to give me a lot of responsibility. I used to call out the lines.”

Guite was named UMaine’s interim head coach shortly after Gendron collapsed and died on the golf course at the Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono on April 9.

Guite applied for the job but former University of Massachusetts associate head coach Ben Barr landed it.

Guite was disappointed but things worked out nicely when he was named the head coach of the Mariners.

He is enjoying his first venture into head coaching.

“The biggest challenge is you have to wear a lot of hats. Once you get going, you have to manage your roster,” said Guite, who pointed out that he also has to recruit players like he did in college coaching.

“It can become a 24-7 job,” he said.

Guite will constantly lose players to injuries and call-ups to the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins, who are a step above the Mariners in the minor league chain.

It’s the first year the Mariners are affiliated with the Bruins at the ECHL level.

The Mariners are allowed to have 21 eligible players and two reserves for each game but Guite can only dress 16 skaters and two goalies.

They will often play three games in three days and six games in nine days, so he said energy conservation will be important.

He played in the ECHL in the 2000-01 season with the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks en route to an extensive pro career that included 582 AHL regular season games and 174 NHL games.

“Back then, teams used to carry a lot of heavyweight fighters. But they don’t fit in the game any more. Everybody can play, everybody can skate. There is a good amount of skill in the league. Over 700 guys who played in the ECHL went on to play in the NHL,” he said. “When I played, the goalies were just about the only ones who made it.”

That serves as motivation to the players with NHL aspirations.

Guite said he has been very impressed with the Bruins organization.

“They have been great. They have been an open book. They have invited me and my assistant, Terrence Wallin, to all of their camps. They have included us in their decision-making process and have showed us how the Bruins are going to play and the systems they use,” Guite said.

He likes his team, although the roster can change on a regular basis.

“I really like their competitiveness and how hard they work. If you have that and you have smart players, you can win a lot of games at this level,” he said.

Ingram’s first NHL Win Tells a Story of Perseverance

Michael Gallagher, |

As he took the traditional rookie solo lap Sunday evening in Minnesota — something he said he thought was only done for skaters and not goaltenders — Connor Ingram was aware of the journey that he took to get to the NHL.

It wasn’t long ago that the 24-year-old was in the NHL’s league assistance program, and it was unknown when he would return to playing full-time hockey.

Now, Ingram has his first NHL start — and win — out of the way.

“Nine months to the day that I stepped away and went into the @NHLPA program for help, I played my first game,” Ingram tweeted after the game. “Amazing the things that happen when you put your mental health first. #LetsTalk.”

Added Predators coach John Hynes: “Guys are hockey players, but they’re people too. And he went through a bit of a struggle last year but give him a ton of credit, he’s spent a lot of time here this summer and really got himself going. I thought he had an excellent training camp. He knew he had a good training camp, he put the work in and it’s nice to see a person develop as a layer but more importantly as a person.”

Ingram was nothing short of dominant against the Wild, stopping 33 of 35 shots — including turning away all eight shots on Minnesota’s five power play opportunities — for a .943 save percentage as the Predators handed the Wild their first loss of the year.

He also became just the second Predators goalie in franchise history to win his NHL debut. The other was Pekka Rinne.

“I still don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Ingram said. “Ignorance is bliss almost at this point, where you don’t really realize what’s going on yet. But I feel good. You jump out to an early (3-0) lead like that, and it’s a lot easier to play goaltender. It was lots of fun.

“My first shot in the Western League and my first shot in the American League both went in, so I was half expecting that the first one would go in today.”

Added captain Roman Josi: “He was awesome. He was great; he was so calm in that first game, and it’s a big deal. I was really nervous when I played my first game, and he looked so calm. There’s so much confidence in him and within our team. It was an awesome game from him, and we’re definitely really proud of him.”

Ingram’s success on Sunday was of no surprise to anyone in the Predators locker room. After all, many of them watched him perform at a high level with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2019.

That season, while splitting time with Troy Grosenick, Ingram ranked third in the AHL in wins (21), goals-against average (1.92) and save percentage (.933) as the Admirals iced the best team in the AHL that year. Milwaukee allowed the fewest goals in the league (141) and had an AHL-best 41-14-5-3 record while occupying the top spot in the Central Division.

Many believe the Admirals would have won the Calder Cup trophy had COVID-19 not ended the season prematurely.

That 2019 season was supposed to serve as the appetizer for how good Ingram could truly be playing full-time starter’s minutes. But the Admirals announced the cancelation of their 2020 season, then they struck a partnership with the Chicago Wolves to have a player share for the season.

Ingram decided then was the time for him to focus on his off-ice issues. He checked himself into NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, which helps players deal with mental health issues, substance abuse problems and other personal matters.

He returned to the AHL and made five starts for the Wolves to close out the season before spending his summer in Nashville competing with David Rittich to be Juuse Saros’ backup. When Rittich was placed on the COVID-19 list, Ingram got his shot.

“I mean, I surprised myself,” Ingram said. “I had a little nap in even, so I must have not been too nervous, I guess, if that’s a possibility. It was really exciting. Everybody at home was really fired up, too, so I guess the first one’s over.”

“He’s been working so hard,” Josi added. “He spent his whole summer in Nashville, he was skating almost every day. So that start was well-earned and the win. You could see it in his game, the way he played, he has a lot of confidence, he’s calm and that’s how he is off the ice too. He’s an awesome teammate.”

Mental Health Conversation

During every pregame skate, I used to look into the crowd and wonder what the fans could see.

I mean, like, what could they really see?

Could they see the cuts on my hands — and the blood on my laces — from obsessively lacing and relacing my skates again and again?

Could they see the bags under my eyes from having gotten just two hours of sleep for the fifth straight night?

Could they see the pain I was going through from trying to work up the nerve to tell the coach that tonight was the night when it was just all too much, and I couldn’t play?

I’ve been an NHL player for 11 years. And until very recently, I’ve had untreated obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD as we commonly know it.