Maine Hockey Journal

Miller nets hat trick in Bridgeport; Keith sent to the Islanders

It was certainly a night to remember.

Drew Miller’s hat trick and Andrew Ebbett three assists were enough to help the Pirates prevail over the Bridgeport Sound Tiger, 5-3 at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Wednesday night.

Miller, just assigned to Portland last week, secured the Pirates first hat trick, since former Pirate Pierre Parenteau did it last season when Miller put the Pirates out front for good with a nice play at 18:15 of the third period.

The Pirates also snapped a 0-for-26 power play drought when Geoff Platt scored on the power play at 4:48 of the second period.

The Arena @ Harbor Yard has been a friendly place for the Pirates to play over the last five seasons as they improved to 5-1-0-0. They hold an edge on the Sound Tigers with a record of 8-2-0-0 over that same span.

Before the game, it was announced by the Anaheim Ducks that Bobby Ryan had been assigned back to Portland. I don’t want to say I was surprised, but some of us here in Portland thought when Ryan was recalled we had seen the last of him.

In his first game back with the Ducks, he scored a goal and looked like he would fit in very well with Doug Weight, but with the acquisition of Brandon Bochenski for Shane Hnidy, it was apparent that Ryan’s days were number in Anaheim, at least for now. Al Coates appeared on the intermission report last night and his comments were interesting.

He, like the rest of us was surprised to see Ryan back in Portland. Coates feels that Ryan is so close to joining the Ducks for good and that it’s only a matter of time. He also noted that Ryan has the talent to play at the NHL level, but he doesn’t necessarily have the conditioning to maintain such a high-level game in and game out in the NHL. Coming back to Portland allows him to continue to work on that conditioning. Another factor, although Coates was quick to downplay it, was the trade of Bochenski. Coates conceded that both were the same style of player and it does neither any good to play on the third or fourth line. They are top-six forwards and they need to be in that position to be successful. Bochenski has the nod right now, because he’s been around the block, but he’s not expendable for the Ducks. They don’t want to risk losing him for nothing if he was placed on waivers and sent to Portland. It’s almost certain a team would take him in a second, if for nothing more to give them depth.

For Portland, Ryan gives them another boost of offense and it begs to ask the question if Dino will reunite Platt back with Ryan and King with Ebbett forming two solid tandems. This doesn’t even include Miller and eventually Ryan Carter when Brad May and Sammi Pahlsson returns to Anaheim.

In other news of the day, prior to the game, the Anaheim Ducks traded Matt Keith to the New York Islanders for Darryl Bootland. I have to say that this, for sure wasn’t a shock. I can remember saying to a colleague in the press box one night after a game, that it was only a matter of time before he was dealt away to another team. He had struggled for much of this season in Portland, posting only five goals, five assists in 34 games and was a minus eight. He had been a healthy scratch several times and he just couldn’t get it turned around with the Red, White and Black. Keith arrived in Portland last season as part of a five-player trade last season from the Chicago Blackhawks, in which saw Bruno St. Jacques and Pierre Parenteau sent to Chicago for Chris Durno and Sebastien Caron and he just never seem to fit into the style of play nor work ethic demanded by the coaching staff. Another mitigating factor was the fact that Keith was going to be a UFA, IV at season’s end because he wasn’t going to have enough NHL games keeping him an RFA.

With the Ducks getting Bootland, it gives the Pirates the toughness that they were desperately looking for. Not that the Pirates folded under pressure, but they didn’t have that true heavyweight laying around, especially with Mike Hoffman expected to be out at least another month with a broken hand, which he suffered in a fight in Albany. In 28 games, Bootland has 93 penalty minutes to go along with his 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists). In 2005-06, he had 27 goals, 29 assists for 56 points and a whopping 390 penalty minutes, which is a Grand Rapids Griffins team record for the most penalty minutes in a season and he also holds the record for penalty minutes in a game with 29 minutes so he can throw the knuckles when called upon.

It was ironic that the deal took place when both Portland (Anaheim’s AHL affiliate) and Bridgeport (Islanders AHL affiliate) were playing each other last night. It only meant that Keith and Bootland would have to walk down the hall as they switch locker rooms, in fact, Keith was coming back from lunch when he was told by the equipment staff that he should check his phone and his locker room was down the hall. What a way to find out, eh? What’s even more ironic is that this has incredible similarities to when the Ducks traded for Maxim Kondratiev and he was less than 10 minutes from taking the ice in warm ups.

Neither player was factor tonight as the Pirates took over sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division, not that it matters much right now as the Wolf Pack have two games in hand, but nonetheless it’s nice to at least be in that position short term.

The Pirates return to the ice on Friday night when they take on the Albany River Rats at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The last time these two teams met, it was in Albany a little over a month ago when the River Rats shutout the Pirates, 2-0. Rats’ goalie Michael Leighton is now with Carolina and John Grahame is the new netminder in Albany, but they still have offensive weapons in Keith Aucoin, Dave Gove and Brandon Nolan (yes, that’s Islanders’ coach Ted Nolan’s son).

Official Scoresheet

Game Recap @ PortlandPirates.com

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