Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates Lose Ground in Playoff Race

Portland, ME – The last time these two teams met in Portland was game six of the Eastern Conference Final, a game the Pirates won, forcing a seventh and deciding game, which the Pirates lost to the eventual Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears.

Despite the fact, only 12 players remain from either team; The Cumberland County Civic Center was full of energy as the 6,683 witness a playoff-like atmosphere on and off the ice.

Unfortunately, the home crowd would be disappointed as the Portland Pirates fell to the Hershey Bears 3-2 on Saturday night.

“When playing in an arena like that, it brings out the best in both teams,” said Bears Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. “It was playoff like hockey, [Portland] is desperate and in a way we’re desperate too because the teams in our division don’t seem to lose so we have to keep winning. It was a nip and tuck type game and we came out on top.”

Hershey would strike first as Dave Steckel, just returned from Washington, buried the cross-ice pass by Pirates’ goaltender Sebastien Caron at the 4:00 minute mark of the first period. The goal came with the Bears shorthanded for five minutes as Louis Robitaille was ejected for hitting from behind after driving Pirates’ defenseman Eric Weinrich into the boards. It was Hershey’s 19th shorthanded goal of the season, which is currently tops in the AHL.

During the remainder of the major penalty, the Pirates didn’t generate much offense as the Bears carried the majority of the play.

“When they create more chances on your power play than you, obviously you’re a little startled,” said Pirates Head Coach Kevin Dineen.

The Bears added one more before the period was over with Eric Weinrich in the box serving two minutes or less for hooking.

It would be less as Alexandre Giroux drove to the front of the net, lifting the puck to the far corner with less than a minute to play in the period.

Both teams played a fast paced second period as both goaltenders made several quality saves, keeping the score at 2-0.

Late in the period, the Pirates finally got on the board as Eric Weinrich unloaded a shot from the left point, beating Bears’ goaltender Jeff Pietrasiak under the crossbar in only his third game in the AHL. The goal pulled the Pirates to within a goal with just 1:51 left in the period.

“It’s character because in his last game [Pietrasiak] got pulled and I knew he’d come right back and he’d play a really good game, said Boudreau. “I have all the faith in him in the world and good athletes do that. They don’t like getting embarrassed and when [they] have a bad game [they] come back and play a great game.”

Joe Motzko, on a great individual effort would tie the game for the Pirates midway into the third period. Motzko beat Bears defenseman Andy Hedlund, cutting back across the zone, before lifting the puck over the shoulder of Pietrasiak, tying the game at 2-2 with 11:25 to play in the game.

Exactly three minutes later, the Bears would retake the lead for the final time as Kyle Wilson streaked to the front of the net, beating Eric Weinrich as he lifted the puck over Caron, giving the Bears a 3-2 lead.

Jeff Pietrasiak stopped 24 of 26 shots in the win, while Sebastien Caron’s two game-winning streak came to an end as he made 28 saves in the loss.

Plank Notes:
– Mark Hartigan extended his point-scoring streak to four games.
– The Lowell Devils lost 3-2 in the shootout against the Hartford Wolf Pack, while the Worcester Sharks defeated the Manchester Monarchs 3-1. Lowell and Worcester are currently tied for the fourth playoff position with 71 points, while the Pirates are four points back with 67 points.
– The Hershey Bears were not without their fans as six buses carrying roughly 250 people made the trip from Hershey, PA for the Bears road trip to Manchester and Portland before ending on Sunday in Bridgeport.
– The Pirates return to action on Sunday as they take on the Philadelphia Phantoms at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Game time is 4:05pm.

Three Stars of the Game:
1. HER – Kyle Wilson (1G, 1A, +1, GWG)
2. HER – Alexandre Giroux (1G, 1A +2)
3. POR – Sebastien Caron (31SH/28SV)

Shots on Goal:
POR 9-11-6=26
HER 13-6-12=31

Goals by Period:
POR 0-1-1=2
HER 2-0-1=3

Power Play Summary:
Portland Pirates PP – 1-for-5
Hershey Bears PP – 1-for-5

Scoring Summary:
1. HER Steckel, (24) (Giroux), 4:00 (SH)
1. HER Giroux, (36) (Bourque, Wilson), 19:08 (PP)
2. POR Weinrich, (2) (Wilson, Hartigan), 18:09 (PP)
3. POR Motzko, (21) (Salcido, Hartigan), 8:35
3. HER Wilson, (17) (Klepis), 11:35

Penalty Summary:
1 – POR Rome, 0:40 – Interference , 2 min (PP)
1 – HER Robitaille, 2:45 – Major – Checking from behind (44.3), 5 min (PP)
1 – HER Robitaille, 2:45 – Game misconduct – Checking from behind (44.5), 10 min
1 – HER Served By Brennan, 8:09 – Bench minor – Illegal substitution , 2 min (PP)
1 – HER Brennan, 10:58 – Fighting , 5 min
1 – POR Hoffman, 10:58 – Fighting , 5 min
1 – HER Sloan, 16:10 – High-sticking , 2 min (PP)
1 – POR Weinrich, 17:13 – Hooking , 2 min (PP)
2 – HER Brennan, 5:16 – Interference , 2 min (PP)
2 – POR Ferguson, 14:25 – Roughing , 2 min (PP)
2 – HER Hedlund, 17:12 – Interference , 2 min (PP)
2 – POR Hartigan, 19:44 – Hooking , 2 min (PP)
3 – POR Weinrich, 14:11 – High-sticking , 2 min (PP)

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