After a slow start to the season, the Portland Pirates are on a roll as they head into their longest road trip of the season.
The Pirates, the Coyotes’ American Hockey League affiliate, earned five of a possible six points (2-0-1) tlast week, including a sweep of a home-and-home series against the Worcester Sharks (San Jose) over the weekend.
The week started with a trip to Connecticut for a game against the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale.
The Pirates jumped to a 2-0 lead on goals by Evan Bloodoff – his first professional goal – and Ashton Rome before the Whale pulled back to within a goal, 2-1, in the closing minutes of the second period as Blake Parlett took a feed from Tim Erixon for a shot into an open net past Pirates goalie Curtis McElhinney.
With 1:11 left in the game, and the Pirates on a power play, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault scored a shorthanded goal – the first given up by the Pirates this season.
The Whale completed the comeback with a power-play goal by Brendan Bell in overtime, giving Connecticut a 3-2 victory.
The Pirates got back to their winning ways on Friday against the Worcester Sharks, but not without some drama as the Pirates needed overtime to earn a 4-3 victory.
The teams traded first-period goals by Portland’s Tyler Eckford
and Worcester’s Benn Ferriero.
Pirates rookie Andy Miele scored twice in the second period, giving the home team a 3-1 lead, however, in the third period, the Sharks scored two of their own within a two-minute span, sending the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Pirates drew a power play on hard work by Colin Long
as he was hauled down in the Pirates zone, setting the stage for Eckford to score his second of the game with a blast from the top of the right circle after getting his own rebound.
“Our third periods have got to get better,” Eckford said. “We build a lead and we just kind of back off and kind of play cautious. We have a good team. We just need to play a full 60 minutes.”
Portland took Eckford’s advice by completing the sweep a night later at the DCU Center in Worcester with a hard-fought 3-1 victory in perhaps the Pirates most complete defensive game of the season.
Worcester managed 30 shots on goal, but unlike the previous two games where the Pirates gave up a lead in the third period, they buckled down and held on for the victory with some tenacious play in the defensive zone.
Pirates captain Dean Arsene
scored his first goal of the season with a blast from the point that deflected by Sharks goalie Tyson Sexsmith to open the scoring midway into the first period.
With 2:48 left in the opening period, Nathan Moon jumped on a rebound, beating McElhinney to tie the score at 1.
|Andy Miele. Photo by Norm Hall. |
The Sharks held the momentum in the second period, but the Pirates held tough even during a four-minute minor by Ryan Hollweg before breaking through on a goal by Brett MacLean
at the 15:14 mark of the period.
Matt Watkins scored his fourth of the season to give the Pirates some breathing room as they held on for the victory.
The Pirates are on a seven-game point streak (6-0-1) and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games to climb within a point of the playoff picture. This weekend they begin a six-game road trip that will start in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Pittsburgh) on Friday night.
Miele has moved into the top-20 in scoring in the AHL with seven goals, 13 assists for 20 points in 14 games. His 20 points have him in second place in rookie scoring only three points behind Cory Conacher of the Norfolk Admirals. EDITOR'S NOTE:
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