The Portland Pirates lost two games over the weekend including their home opener.
The Coyotes’ American Hockey League affiliate was defeated by the Los Angeles Kings’ affiliate, and long-time Pirates rival, the Manchester Monarchs, 5-1, at home on Saturday and followed that up on Sunday with a loss on the road to another long-time rival, the Providence Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout.
The Pirates are 1-1-0-1 on the young season and sit in fifth place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division.
Looking back at the weekend, the young Pirates learned a valuable lesson about what it will take to win to at the AHL level and eventually in the NHL with Coyotes.
|Ray Edwards |
Manchester outworked the Pirates in many aspects of the game, and while Head Coach Ray Edwards wasn’t pleased with the outcome, he feels it was the lessons learned that will make the team better down the road.
“We know there is only one way to go and that’s up,” Edwards said. “We’ve got a good group of players. We’ll be fine. This is a good lesson for our younger players that despite having a couple good games, this is a hard league and it’s a hard league to win in.”
The Pirates found themselves down 3-0 before Colin Long
tried to stem the bleeding by scoring his first goal of the season.
Long, who played only five AHL games in 2010-11, said while it was disappointing not to get the victory, it was a relief to get back on the ice and contribute like the California native did in his final two seasons of junior hockey, when he posted 191 points in 140 games with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL.
“I’ve had some injury issues, but it’s just great to get back out there, healthy and in shape, and playing the way I know I can,” Long said. “It wasn’t a great game at all. It was kind of disappointing with the home opener. We wanted to make a better impression on the fans, but the good thing is we have (another day) to redeem ourselves.”
The Monarchs tacked on two more goals in the third period to seal the win.
Pirates goalie Curtis McElhinney stopped 28 shots to drop to 1-1-0 on the season.
Justin Pogge started in goal on Sunday afternoon at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, and stayed busy for the majority of the first period.
Pogge, in his first start of the year, faced 12 shots in the period and allowed two goals in the first 20 minutes of play. The Pirates mustered only one shot on net in that period, but it was enough to get them on the board as Matt Watkins was credited with the goal for his first of the season.
Ryan Duncan scored the equalizer in the second period and that was all the scoring through the rest of regulation and overtime.
In the shootout, Duncan beat Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin for the second time in the game, but Providence’s Jamie Arniel and Zach Hamill found the back of the net to take the extra point.
Despite only earning a point over the weekend, there was a bright spot for the Pirates as they remained perfect on the penalty kill for the season.
The Pirates will get an opportunity to even the season series against Manchester and Providence this week. On Wednesday, the Monarchs come to Portland for the second of 12 meetings this season as the Pirates will play Manchester five times in the first 11 games of the season, including three times in a row (Oct. 28, Nov. 6, and Nov. 9). On Friday, Portland will host Adirondack and on Saturday it will host Providence.