Maine Hockey Journal

Hart inks deal with ECHL’s Everblades

LEWISTON — A lot can happen over the course of five years.

After a solid collegiate career at Providence College, Kevin Hart, a native of Cumberland, is taking his talent to Fort Myers, Florida, after he signed a free agent contract with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.

The 22-year old defenseman amassed eight goals and 26 assists in 143 career games with the Friars.

Hart, who won the Class B State Championship in 2009 with Greely High School, had his sights on going to Bowdoin College to continue his hockey career, but a post graduate year with Phillip Exeter Academy opened the eyes of Division I coaches, which eventually led to his commitment to Providence.

“At the time (winning state championship) I didn’t know what I going to do for school or anything,” said Hart.

When Friars’ season ended in March, he began to look for a place to play professionally for the upcoming season.

“Basically after the season, my agent started talking to some teams and I got a couple phone calls,” Hart said. “Florida was one of the first teams that contacted me and it seemed like a good fit for me.”

He also has family in Florida as his grandparents live in the Tampa area which is about a two-hour drive from Fort Myers.

The Everblades are owned by Peter Karmanos, who also owns the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. The Everblades are the ECHL affiliate for the Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning organizations.

Brian Hart, the middle brother of the Hart’s, was Tampa Bay’s second round choice in 2012. He will be a junior at Harvard University in the fall. The youngest brother Ted is committed to Providence College for 2015-‘16.

The Everblades who won the Kelly Cup in the 2011-‘12 season are expecting Hart to jump in the line up immediately.

“Kevin was a solid two-way defenseman at Providence College,” Everblades Head Coach Greg Poss said in the team’s press release. “We expect big things from him during his first professional season.”

The 6-foot-1, 194-pound Hart is ready to compete to be one of the six defensemen in the starting lineup.

“I’ve had a couple of discussions with the coach and obviously nothing is going to be handed to me,” Hart said. “I am going to go in there and work hard and earn every bit of it. It’s a good place to develop with their facilities and they have a pretty good track record.”

Twenty-seven players in the team’s history have on to play in the NHL after starting their professional career in the ECHL.

Hart was a part of Providence College’s renaissance in Hockey East. In his freshman year under former Portland Pirates coach and current Colorado Avalanche assistant coach Tim Army they went 8-18-8 to finish ninth in a 10-team league. In his sophomore year the team went 14-20-4. Army was let go by Providence at the end of the season and they hired former UMaine assistant coach Nate Leaman for the start of the 2012-13 year where they went to the Hockey East semifinals before losing to UMass-Lowell to end their season at 17-14-7. This past year the Friars went 22-11-6, bowing out to eventual National Champions, Union College in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.

“I was fortunate when Coach Army was there. I learned a lot from him,” Hart said. “The coaching change kind of changed the whole culture of the program. Coach Leaman, coach (Ben) Barr and coach (Jamie) Russell, they taught me so much that I never knew before and really helped my game grow.”

Derek Army signs with Wheeling

Kevin Hart’s teammate at Providence and son of Tim Army, Derek Army has signed a deal with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL for the upcoming season.

Army, who played his freshman year at Scarborough High School, joined the Nailers after the college season ended and had three goals and assist in four games.

The 23-year old, 5-foot-11 170-pound forward had eight goals and ten assists this past season for the Friars. He finished his college career with 38 goals and 38 assists in 149 games.

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