Maine Hockey Journal

Moran back in the minors as Dixon give Pirates first win

Portland, ME – It’s funny how the world goes around in mysterious circles. Sitting in the press box prior to game time, I was looking over the Lowell Devils roster, when I noticed a familiar name on their player list. Former Duck and Pirate Ian Moran is skating with Lowell this season after signing a contract with New Jersey over the summer. He’s expected to provide a veteran presence to a team that is full of youngsters, much like Pirates’ defenseman Eric Weinrich, it’s just too bad he didn�t want to take advantage of that same opportunity in Portland.

For those who may need a quick refresher on Moran, he signed with Anaheim last season, but the strong play of several other players put him in a position much like Travis Green and Stan Chistov where playing time was extremely limited. He came to Portland on a conditioning stint and played well before going back to Anaheim for a few days and being placed on waivers, ultimately being assigned to the Pirates.

He played 18 games and was a solid defender, but at after a game against the Hartford Wolf Pack things boiled over and he had words with Anaheim GM Brian Burke, who was in town for the weekend.


Because Kent Huskins was recalled in December, it left Moran sour about playing in Portland when he felt betrayed or deceived in some fashion. Apparently, he felt he should have been recalled and given a chance to play before Huskins. To me, that’s a judgement call, but he let Burke know he wasn’t happy with that decision and Burke gave him his options.

So he left and went home to Massachusetts to ponder his options. On Jan 25, 2007, he signed with the Berlin Polar Bears for the remainder of the season.

I can remember having many conversations with him after practice during his abbreviated stay and he would say all the right things (He loved Portland, the team and was happy to play for the team because he was playing) and he was very cordial, but to leave as he did, is no different then what Tyler Wright and Dan LaCouture have done by not reporting to Portland or any minor league club.

He could have accepted his role, played in Portland doing the best he could, because it wasn’t about the money, and then make his move in the off-season, but at the end of the day he left the Pirates, signing with an NHL team only to be sent to the AHL affiliate.

Good luck Ian.

Back to the game, The Pirates played well for a second straight game only to be snake-bitten for the first forty-minutes, but the Pirates scored four unanswered goals in the third period to get their first win of the season, defeating the Lowell Devils 4-1 in front of 4,456 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Earlier in the day, the Anaheim Ducks had recalled Jason King and Drew Miller after reassigning Bobby Ryan to Portland. Ryan had played the first four games for the Ducks where he scored a single goal. He still has a lot developing before he’s a full time NHLer.

Ryan started the game on a line with Andrew Ebbett and Clay Wilson and he looked like he was ready to play. I thought that Ryan and Ebbett had good chemistry together. They moved the puck well and really had a flow in the zone.

Ivan Khomutov had a breakaway in the first period, but Aaron Rome was able to get back knocking the puck to the corner, breaking up the play.

Speaking of Rome, he gets a lot of flak, but he�s one of the Pirates more stable defenseman. He’s on the ice so much that when a mistake is made, it usually his pairing that made the mistake and it gets noticed, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not that bad. He�ll be in the NHL by the end of this season.

Another Pirates defenseman who caught my eye has been Brendan Mikkelson, this kid has a set of wheels and can motor down the ice. Also, he’s huge at 6-3, 202-pounds and still developing, filling his large frame, but he has a skill set to be in the NHL.

At 14:39, the Devils grabbed the first lead of the game on a delayed call against the Pirates when Barry Tallackson intended to slide a pass across to Khomutov, it deflected off Andy Schneider’s skate and Khomutov sent the puck by Pirates� goaltender JP Levasseur.

The Pirates would have to kill off a late 5-on-3 as Tyler Bouck was off for interference. With 1:58 left in the period Stephen Dixon was call for a five minute major after a baseball swing on Jari Viukola. It was Viukola’s first game in North America and he received 12 stitches to show for it.(What a welcome to North America) It must be said that Dixon was incredibly lucky to not receive a game misconduct for drawing blood either.

Mike Hoffman tied the game for Portland at 3:44 of the third period. Joe Callahan put the shot on net, but the rebound came to Hoffman, who lifted the puck over Devils’ goaltender Jordan Parise.

Parise played a great game as the Devils were out shot in the final two periods, 29-7 including 18-3 in the third period, but the floodgates seem to open after the first goal by Hoffman.

Stephen Dixon rebounding from a major penalty, scored his first of the season at 6:58 of the period. With the Pirates on a power play, Ryan Dingle fired a shot on net, Parise couldn’t hold on to the puck as Dixon found the rebound stuffing it into the net, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

Speaking earlier about Andrew Ebbett, he scored his third point of the season with a goal with 9:32 left in the game. Ryan passed the puck to Mikkelson, who blasted a shot from the point. Ebbett picked up the puck, spinning around and depositing the puck by Parise for the 3-1 lead.

Like the first three goals the Pirates scored, they were able to get the initial shot on net only to find the rebound and score the ugly goal. It’s something the Pirates will have to do a lot this year if they want to be successful. It’s a lot like the play of the Anaheim Ducks, get the puck to the front of the net, send lots of bodies and bury it by the goaltender.

Aaron Rome fired the shot net and Dixon would get his second of the night, slapping the rebound as the Pirates prevailed 4-1.

In his first professional game, Levasseur appears to be as advertised. He was square to the shooter most of the night, coming out to challenge when he had too and so far he’s the prospect that everybody expected him to be.

The Pirates are off this week, until Friday when they travel to Springfield, taking on the Falcons at the MassMutual Center for their first road game.

Official Game Sheet

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