Maine Hockey Journal

On a night of delays; Pirates drop opener

What a night! The Portland Pirates began the 2007-08 season tonight and it was certainly an experience to say the least. Despite the Pirates losing 3-2 in front of 3,707 at the Cumberland County Civic Center, the hot topics of night had nothing to with the game, but with issues that arose on opening night.

It started when the media was informed that the game would be delayed by 30 minutes because the Pirates and Falcons game jersey’s hadn’t yet arrived from Cutting Edge Sports (Official Supplier to the AHL) from Massachusetts.

At 7:30pm, They still hadn’t arrived as the Pirates began introductions so both teams took the ice in their practice jersey’s without numbers on the back so getting to know who was who at the top of the press box was really interesting. (I felt bad for Pirates play-by-play Greg Glynn on that one.)

The game overall was what I expected. The Springfield Falcons aren’t the same team as they were in the past when they were affiliated with Tampa Bay and Phoenix. The affiliation with the Edmonton Oilers is the best thing that could have ever happened to the Falcons. Springfield should be excited to have a team like Edmonton, putting such quality players on the ice.

Hopefully people will support the franchise now, but if not then it’s a real shame.

As for the game, Portland held the early play, but couldn’t bury the puck by Springfield’s goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. This kid is a big goaltender at 6-4, 202-pounds, he’s agile and very quick on his lateral movement.

It was later in the period, but the Falcons found their legs. The edge still went to Portland despite being out shot in the period.

Just 58 seconds into the second period, the Falcons grabbed the early 1-0 lead when the Pirates committed a turnover in their own end. Brett Festerling missed the outlet pass and Ben Simon picked up the loose puck firing the puck to the front of the net. Stephane Goulet tipped the puck by Coleman. It was Goulet’s first professional goal.

Gerald Coleman was recently sent down last Monday after spending the last two games with the Anaheim Ducks in London. It was certainly an experience for him, but he was ecstatic about being in Portland. With so much depth, he knows getting the playing time in Portland will be his way to show the organization he’s a prospect and future NHL player.

Midway into the second period, Portland tied the game at a goal apiece as Jason King scored his first of two goals on the night. King spilt between defensemen Allan Rouke and Bryan Young, lifting the puck with a backhand shot over Deslauriers. Andrew Ebbett was given credit for the assist.

One note on the period, Portland controlled much of the period outshooting Springfield 10-4. They forechecked effectively, creating havoc by getting bodies in front of the net, something that they lacked from last season.

With the game tied, 1-1 after 40 minutes of play, it appeared that the Pirates were poised for the win. However, here comes the second delay of the game. While the zamboni was resurfacing the ice, it ran over a t-shirt from one of the promotions during the intermission. So, the zamboni is sitting in the middle of the ice with a t-shirt wrapped around the rotor blades (One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.) I’m sure the Pirates didn’t think it was funny. They won’t admit it, but I think it hurt them more then it did the Falcons. Dineen hinted it was a factor, but he was taking the blame for not having the team ready to play after such a long delay.

After an hour or so, the zamboni was finally repaired (sorry I can’t say the same for the t-shirt) and they finished resurfacing the ice, but by then most of 3,707 had left the CCCC.

After the puck drop to begin the third period, it only took the Falcons 18 seconds to regain the lead. Tough guy Zack Stortini found the back of the net after Coleman gave up a juicy rebound on the initial shot right to Stortini.

Portland had double the shots in the period, but Springfield did a great job of keeping the Pirates to the perimeter and eliminating their presence in front of the net, something that Portland did well for two periods.

Falcons extended the lead to 3-1 when Vlacheslav Trukhno fired a shot in the slot with less than five minutes to go in the game.

With the goalie pulled for the Pirates, they tried to cycle the puck down low in an attempt to generate some more offense. It worked with 59 seconds left as Jason King grabbed a rebound off the boards and deposited the puck between the five-hole of Deslauriers, pulling to within a goal.

Springfield played a solid road game with strong defense and capitalizing on their chances. Much like I said earlier, this should be an exciting team for the city of Springfield and the MassMutual Center should be packed every night.

The Pirates are a team that’s a work in progress, they didn’t play badly and they should have won tonight if you look as the chances Portland had, but they made a couple mistakes and it cost them two goals for sure. They can rebound with a game against Lowell tomorrow at the Civic Center.

Offical Game Sheet

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