GLENDALE – The Portland Pirates will attempt to extend their winning streak to six games on Tuesday when they host Manchester at the Cross Insurance Arena.
“We’ve found a rhythm and we’re getting some chemistry with some lines and playing a much better team game than we were at the beginning of the season,” General Manager/Head Coach Ray Edwards said after Monday’s practice. “We’re digging in to some of the details that we needed to. It’s been good. The players understand this is a hard league to win in and you’ve got to work at a certain level… When you start winning some games it helps you. Now the challenge is to be consistent.”
The Pirates, who have jumped into eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings, are unbeaten at home with a 4-0-0-0 record. They have outscored opponents 15-6 in those games.
“We’ve played really well at home,” Edwards said. “We haven’t given up a lot. We’d just like to keep that going and take it on the road.”
Captain Alex Bolduc is leading the way 13 points, which ranks seventh in the American Hockey League. He also co-leads the team with Lucas Lessio with five goals and is tops in assists with eight.
Mike McKenna and Louis Domingue are sharing goaltending duties. McKenna posted the team’s first shutout of the season on Saturday when he stopped all 27 shots he faced vs. Lehigh Valley.
The Pirates have been solid on special teams lately having scored a power-play goal in each of their five consecutive wins. On the flip side, Portland leads the AHL with six short-handed goals in just 12 games.
Portland will play three more home games this week before heading back out on the road for a Sunday game at Providence, the first of four straight on the road.
Edwards said Coyotes first-round draft pick Henrik Samuelsson is getting more comfortable and confident with each game he plays. The first-year pro ranks tied for fourth on the team with seven points (three goals, four assists).
Forward Paul Bissonnette, who has been battling an illness, practiced with the team on Monday and could make his debut with the team as soon as Tuesday vs. Manchester.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Portland Pirates are the Coyotes’ affiliate in the American Hockey League. For more info on the team visit portlandpirates.com and follow them on Twitter at @PortlandPirates.