Maine Hockey Journal

9.) Pirates look within to eliminate Bruins

The Portland Pirates need more than a scoring touch to beat the Providence Bruins. Down 0-2 in the series, the Pirates dug down to their inner core, prevailing in one of the most exciting series match-ups of all time.

9.) For fans of the Portland Pirates, the ‘07-‘08 season is a certainly going to be a year to remember. The season provided fans with numerous highlights, at times leaving them on the edge of their seats.

Not only was it a team that left fans feeling satisfied – on most nights –, but this past season we saw the emergence of Bobby Ryan. Finally, what everybody had hope he would be, a hard nose player, with soft hands and that oh so magical scoring touch.

It was also another year, in which the Pirates made a deep playoff run, coming only one game from earning a berth to the Calder Cup finals for the second time in three years. In ’06, they were expected to make it to the Calder Cup finals, however, it just wasn’t meant to be as they ran into a very stout and well-coached Hershey Bears.

This year was a little different.

The regular season, on again – off again, was never one were Portland asserted themselves as powerhouses in the AHL, eventually finishing third in the division.

Despite not earning home-ice for the playoffs, the Pirates were playoff bound and as everybody knows, once you make the playoffs, it’s a whole new season and anything can happen.

The Pirates made the most of their opportunity, dispatching their first round opponent, the Hartford Wolf Pack, in five games. Next up were the Providence Bruins, who were arguably the best team in the AHL all season long.

After the first two games in Providence, the Pirates looked to be no match for the high scoring offense of the Bruins. Being outscored 11-1 left little hope for the fans that Portland was going to have a chance to win this series. No one believed they were going to win a game, let alone the series.

Of course, the Pirates didn’t believe that.

They headed back to Portland with the next three games at home, knowing they just had to win one game at a time. They held their heads high, keeping their eye on the prize, but more importantly, they knew it took four wins to win a series and Providence wasn’t there, yet.

In game three, Brendan Mikkelson proved to be the ultimate hero, but he wouldn’t have had that opportunity if it hadn’t been for the heroics of Bobby Ryan with 57 seconds left in the third period.

Leading by one goal with less than six minutes to play, Providence sparked a comeback as it looked like they were going to take a 3-0 series lead, but Ryan gave the Pirates a whole new lease on life, which ultimately changed the complexion of the series. Ryan, parked at the left goal post, found the rebound, sneaking it by Providence goalie Tuukka Rask to send the game to overtime, where Mikkelson was the hero of the game, at least on the scoresheet.

Back at the Cumberland County Civic Center for game four, the Pirates, again, needed overtime where they prevailed on Simon Ferguson’s best impression of a Tim Wakefield knuckleball, beating a very unsuspecting Rask.

A 3-2 win by the Pirates, put the Bruins on the ropes for the first time during the playoffs. It was also the first time the Pirates didn’t need overtime to win a game against Providence.

After winning their games at home, all Portland had to do — Go into a hostile environment in Providence and win one of the next two games.

An easy feat? Right.

The Pirates found themselves down 2-0 midway into the first period before Drew Miller scored, cutting the lead in half.

After forty minutes of play, it was a tied a game with the Bruins season on the line, but for the Pirates, it was a chance to close out the series.

Geoff Platt made his feelings known, scoring just 1:03 into the third period, giving the Pirates the first lead of the game, one they never relinquished.

Jason King delivered the knock out punch with the second of his two goals scored on the night.

At the end of the night, the Pirates were moving on and the Providence Bruins were left looking for answers about what happened as they wondering what might have been.

From the start of the series, Pirates’ coach Kevin Dineen had this team believing they could win, although the pundits predicted otherwise. They played with heart, passion and determination as they showed resolve. Even being down 0-2 in the series, they never gave up.

Portland didn’t win the Calder Cup or even advance to the finals as they were eliminated by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, but this team showed the fan base something that hadn’t been seen in Portland in a very long time. Not since the days of Brian Curran, Jason Christie or Kevin Kaminski had this team showed the heart needed to win hockey games.

That’s what makes this moment ninth on the Pirates Top-10 moments in franchise history.

10.) Ebright saves hockey in Portland

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