Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates clinch playoff berth; Coleman’s back and more

PORTLAND, ME – Sorry for the lengthy absence from Skate the Plank, I’ve been ill for a while and needed to take some time off in order to get my energy and passion back for hockey again.

Now that I’m back, I have a lot to talk about as well as give you a sneak peek at some of the future projects I’m working on.

Starting with this past weekend.

The Portland Pirates had a Jekyll and Hyde weekend winning convincingly on Friday against Springfield only to lay an egg – no pun intended – on Saturday to the Monarchs.

After winning on Friday, the Pirates had a chance to clinch a playoff spot in front of the home crowd with a win over the Monarchs, but the Monarchs who are fight for their own playoff lives played a very desperate hockey game and sometimes those are most dangerous teams to play against as the Pirates found out.

Despite losing, the Pirates would have their ticket stamped to the Calder Cup playoffs on Sunday with the help of the same Manchester Monarchs, who beat the Pirates the night before, when they edged the Springfield Falcons. After the game Friday, I got the sense that the Pirates knew they were going to the playoffs and they were more focused on getting home ice in the first round as they prepared for Hartford, the likely first round opponent.

“We’re really not too concern about (clinching a playoff spot), said Jason King. We’re really concerned about home ice, it looks like the match up will be us and Hartford and I think it’s important for us to finish ahead of them.”


On Friday, Ducks goaltender J.S. Giguere tweaked his back, forcing him to sit out Friday’s game against San Jose. What’s worse was the fact that backup Jonas Hiller took a shot off the forehead, which required stitches during the game and if he couldn’t play, the Ducks had contemplated tough guy George Parros playing goal.

Anaheim needing re-enforcements recalled J.S. Aubin from the Pirates Saturday morning.

As a result, the one thing I thought I would never see the rest of this season would be Gerald Coleman back in a Pirates uniform. After suffering from concussion symptoms, the Ducks picking up J.S. Aubin from Los Angeles, it appeared all, but certain that Coleman would be banished to Augusta for the remainder of the season.

However, as I’ve learned never say never because anything is possible, especially in hockey as Saturday night Coleman found himself thrown into a raging fire after a 30 game absence in Portland in relief of Mike McKenna, who was having an off night.

Coleman wasn’t spectacular, but who would have thought he was going to be.

According to the Ducks, Giguere injury isn’t going to be long term and he could be ready for action as soon as Wednesday night against Los Angeles. The question has to be asked why not recall Coleman from Portland to sit on the bench knowing that Hiller would see all the action, creating as little disruption to the Pirates lineup as possible or even recalling J.P. Levasseur from Augusta, sending Coleman back to the Lynx. Both moves would have given the Ducks a reliable backup in the short term.


For all the flack by the public that Brian Salcido has taken over the last two years, he without question been the Pirates best defenseman since about December 2006.

This season, Salcido is only one point away from setting the record for the most points by defenseman since Nick Naumenko set the record back in the 2001-02 season with 50 points (15g, 45a). Salcido, ranked second in the AHL among defensemen with 49 points (10g, 39a), has excelled since arriving in Portland last year. Steadily getting more and more ice time as the season progressed to the point where this season he’s viewed as one of the veterans on a team with a fairly young defensive group in Brendan Mikkelson, Brett Festerling and Andy Schneider.

Salcido will certainly head to Anaheim once the Pirates season is concluded and it’s likely he’ll be fighting for a roster spot on the blueline in training camp next season.


I spoke earlier about a future project. Well, I had a chance to sit down with Brendan Mikkelson talk about family matters and more importantly his sister Meaghan, who is recently the youngest member to be named to the Women’s Canadian National Team.

At 23 years of age, she’s the youngest defenseman on the team by some three-and-a-half years.

The Women’s World Championship tournament takes place in Harbin, China from April 4 to 12.

Stay tuned for more about a really cool kid.

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