Marino wins AHL championship
Kyle Marino hasn’t forgotten his roots.
The 27-year-old Niagara Falls native won a Calder Cup last week when the Chicago Wolves captured the American Hockey League’s top prize, and the former Fort Erie Meteor was quick to give credit to the Passero family for giving him his break in junior hockey.
“Fort Erie was everything to me,” Marino said. “I played two seasons there and obviously Nik and Anthony and Tony gave me everything. I didn’t have a spot to go to and they were there and opened the doors for me. I just tried to work as hard as I could.
“Obviously, without them I’m not here today.”
Marino played the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons with the Meteors before suiting up for two seasons with the Kelowna Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League where he was part of a Royal Bank Cup championship squad.
From there, it was on to the University of Alaska Fairbanks before turning pro last season in the ECHL. Marino signed a two-way deal with the Wolves this season and spent the majority of the year in the AHL where his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame came in handy as an enforcer.
“Obviously, you want to be in the American Hockey League and I just tried to do anything I could to stay on this team because I knew how special it was going to be,” Marino said.
The Wolves topped the Springfield Thunderbirds in five games to earn the Calder Cup.
“I was talking with the guys and you don’t realize what it means right now but looking back at it one day, it’s definitely something special with a special group we had here in Chicago,” he said. “Anytime you get a chance to win it’s amazing and it doesn’t come around often, that’s for sure.”
The Wolves won their title on the road, which made for a short night of celebrating.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It was a little bit of an early morning flight the next day trying to get back to Chicago but we have a team dinner Tuesday and that will be fun and then it’s back to Niagara.”
Marino said the Wolves have an amazing and passionate fan base.
“A ton of them came out to games on the road. You’d see them driving around and even in places like Texas you would see some Wolves jerseys so it was awesome. We get great support and ownership does a great job.”
Marino collected a pair of assists and 82 minutes in penalties with the Wolves in 24 games this season, also had four goals and 10 points in 19 games at the ECHL level.
“I went down to play some games. My time in Idaho was awesome. I got to work on a lot of stuff down there and different parts of my game,” he said.
Marino, who graduated with a degree in business administration, isn’t ready for the nine-to-five grind just yet.
“If the opportunities are there and I’m playing at the highest level I can and if my body holds up and I’m able to compete, I’m going to keep playing as long as I can,” he said. “Chicago is a great place. I don’t know what’s in store for me next year but I’d love to come back and would like to make that happen.”
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