Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates’ will carry them past Providence

Providence, RI – The Portland Pirates pulled off what was thought to be the impossible, beating the Providence Bruins, 5-4, winning their fourth straight game to eliminate the AHL’s best team, four games-to-two.

Over the course of the last two weeks, there were many doubters including myself, but the players in the Pirates locker room believed that although they were down two games in the best-of-seven series, they still had a pulse.

They believed in themselves, but more importantly, they believed in the fans in Portland. From the start of the series, Pirates’ coach Kevin Dineen instilled the fact the series doesn’t begin until they play a single game at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The player’s bought into that philosophy.

The Pirates were tied after the first two games of the Atlantic Division semifinal. They came back to the 4 C’s and proceeded to win their two home games, taking a 3-1 series lead back to Hartford where they’d advance to the division finals against a very heavily favored P-Bruins team.

The Boston Bruins had just been eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens and they had the option of sending down four NHL skilled players in Phil Kessel, David Krejci, Vladimir Sobotka, and Petteri Nokelainen – only Sobotka and Nokelainen were assigned to Providence, making the Peebs an all out favorite to win the whole thing.

After the first two games, it looked like it wasn’t going to be much of a series. The Bruins were poised to take the series in a sweep. In two games, the Pirates were outscored 11-1, outshot 74-47, they were missing their #1 goaltender and heading back to Portland down 0-2.

Some of the media had them down and out, including me, who should know better, but it didn’t matter what media thought as the Pirates believed in themselves. This was a team that cherishes the role of the underdog, much like their coach. Give Dineen a challenge and tell him it can’t be done, then sit back and watch him complete the task to masterful perfection.

Dineen knew the power of having a week off before playing three games at home. He knew once the proper adjustments were made and J.S. Aubin returned to the line up, the Pirates wouldn’t just roll over.

That wouldn’t be Dineen thing to do.

Dineen also understood the dynamics of playing three games in the comfy confines of the Civic Center. The Pirates knew the fan base would come out and make 3,000 fans sound like 8,000. He knew the players would feed off that and responded just as he did during his NHL career. The Civic Center created and the Pirates developed a refused to lose attitude. They gave it all for 12 straight periods and now they find themselves heading back to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three years.

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The Pirates win at the Dunkin Donuts Center was the first road win for either team in this series. The Peebs were 4-0 going into game six had lost a home game going back to start of the playoffs.

The Pirates improve to 9-1 when playing a game six; they also improve to 4-1 in the second round. When the Pirates open a series on the road, they improved to 10-4.

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