New England sports fans are known for being a little … intense. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Patriots, the Red Sox, the Celtics, or the Bruins; we’re known for scheduling our lives around their games and for having an emotional wellbeing that sways with the scoreboard. In short, New England fans follow their teams with wholehearted support; a support that oftentimes borders on obsession.
While you may be aware of the New England fan stereotype, what you might not know is that Northern New England has a whole slew of professional sports teams. We have five minor league teams in Northern New England, covering hockey, basketball and baseball. They’re all competitive organizations with large fan bases, offering Northern New England residents affordable entertainment.
Part of the American Hockey League, the Portland Pirates are the minor league ice hockey affiliates of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes. The Pirates, in their black, red, silver and white have been a source of winter entertainment for the Portland, Maine area since the 1993 – 1994 season.
During their first year of play, the Pirates won the Calder Cup, the playoff championship trophy, with a 43-27-10 record. While they have not repeated that feat since, they do have an additional conference championship as well as two division championships to their name. Since the 2007 – 2008 season, the Pirates have finished as one of the top 3 teams in the Atlantic Division. Their skill makes for exciting games.
The Pirates play at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine. You can find out more about the team, including their schedule, at http://www.portlandpirates.com/
Like the Portland Pirates, the Manchester Monarchs are part of the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference, Atlantic Division. Affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings, the Monarchs have brought minor league hockey entertainment to the Manchester, NH area since 2001.
The Manchester Monarchs are a highly competitive team; in the past 10 years, the Monarchs have advanced to the Calder Cup playoffs in all but 1 season. To add to this impressive record, they have two regular season titles as well as two division championships to their name.
Perhaps it is their outstanding record that brings so many people to their home at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. In 2003 – 2004 as well as in 2005 – 2006, the Manchester Monarchs led the way in fan attendance, beating out all the other AHL teams as well as other minor league hockey teams. The Monarchs obviously have some dedicated fans.
You can learn more about the team at http://www.manchestermonarchs.com/home.php?track=forward
Maine Red Claws
The Maine Red Claws, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Boston Celtics, is a relative newcomer to the Portland, ME sport arena. With the first tip-off a mere three years ago in 2009, the team has drawn a lot of support from southern Maine fans (also known as Crustacean Nation). During their first season, the Red Claws were the only D-League team to sell out all 24 of their home games. The stands are just as packed today.
While the Red Claws don’t have any titles under their belt yet, it is just a matter of time. Many of their talented players have been called up to play in the NBA, while certain NBA players have been called down and made an appearance at the Portland Expo Building. For more information on the team, head to: http://www.nba.com/dleague/maine/seasonsplash.html
Portland Sea Dogs
A double-A minor league team, the Portland Sea Dogs are the affiliates of the MLB’s Boston Red Sox. The Sea Dogs, in their red and blue, have been a source of baseball entertainment for the Portland area since 1994.
The team has an impressive record. They can boast 157 players who have reached the MLB, 7 playoff teams, 4 Northern Division Championships, and 1 Eastern League Championship. Some of their notable alumni include Josh Beckett and Dustin Pedroia. Who will their next star be?
The Sea Dogs play at Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine. To learn more about the team, and their unique mascot, Slugger the Sea Dog, go to their website: http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t546
New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Another double-A minor league baseball team, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats play out of Manchester, New Hampshire visa electron at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Since their inception in 2003, the team has been affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Although a relatively young team, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have snagged the spotlight; In 2011, they won their second Eastern League Championship within seven years. They are consistently sold-out at their 7,500-person stadium.
The New Hampshire Business Review’s ‘Best of Business Awards’ has rated the Fisher Cats as the Best Sporting Venue to Take a Client while PETA has ranked it the most vegetarian friendly ballpark in minor league baseball. Those are some pretty high accolades. To learn more about the Fisher Cats, check out their website at: http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t463
The Final Inning
Our Northern New England sports teams might not be as well known as our Boston teams, but they’re doing incredible things. Not only are they highly competitive, they also provide fun, local, affordable family entertainment. There’s no need to be in a huge metropolitan area for great sports action; we’ve got it in our backyard.
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Thanks to chipgriffin for the use of their photographs.