Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates head to their holiday break on a positive note

Pirates' goalie Jhonas Enroth makes save early in first period (Courtesy of Southern Maine Digital Imaging)

Pirates' goalie Jhonas Enroth makes save early in first period (Courtesy of Southern Maine Digital Imaging)

Portland, ME – Jhonas Enroth made 41 saves and Marek Zagrapan scored the game-winning midway into the third period as a few hundred fans braved the elements to watch the Portland Pirates come back from a two goal deficit to beat the Worcester Sharks, 3-2, at the Cumberland County Civic Center on a snowy Sunday afternoon.

It was the second time this weekend the Sharks and Pirates were affected by weather, but Worcester traveled to Portland last night after they play at home against Manchester.

At 10:32 of the first period, Matt Fornataro buried a rebound by Enroth for the 1-0 lead. Patrick Traverse took the shot from top of right circle where Enroth made the initial save, but the puck squirted loose to Fornataro, who had the open net for the goal as the Pirates gave up the first goal for the second straight game.

With both teams were skating four-on-four when Paul Baier took a holding penalty at 11:47 of the period, giving Worcester a four-on-three power play.

Just 20 seconds later, a defensive breakdown by the Pirates led to the Sharks goal as defenseman Patrick Traverse, alone at the top of the left circle, fired a wrist shot over Enroth’s glove to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead.

The Pirates began the comeback when Colin Murphy cut across the slot, shoveling a shot on net that trickled between the legs of Sharks’ goaltender Taylor Dakers at 16:55 of the second period.

“The guys did a good job not to get frustrated,” said Pirates’ defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani. “We got off our game to go down by two (goals), but (Murphy) got a big goal for us and got us right back into the hockey game.”

Portland ended the second period with a two-man advantage, just coming short of getting the equalizer despite several quality chances.

Still on the power play to start the third period, Portland carried the momentum, getting the tying goal just as the power play expired.

Mathieu Darche found Mark Mancari’s initial shot behind Dakers and just tapped it into the net as the Pirates tied the game, 2-2, at 1:10 of the third period.

“We might not have scored on the power play, but (the goal) was off the momentum we had on the power play,” said Darche.

The Pirates took the lead at 9:21 of the third period when Marek Zagrapan redirected Mike Weber’s point shot past Dakers for the 3-2 lead.

It was the first time the Pirates had won back-to-back games since mid-November.

“It was nice to win two games in a row,” said Gragnani. “Lately, it always seems like we win one, lose one and that’s not the direction we want to go.”

“We’re a better team than .500.”

NOTES: Mark Mancari took a stick in the eye with about five minutes left in the game. He was able to skate the bench with the help of the trainer, but didn’t return. Sabres G.M. Darcy Regier was in attendance at both games this weekend and spoke briefly to the media after tonight’s game. He spoke about injuries to both clubs and said that he felt the Sabres were getting healthy and that could only mean positive things for Portland in the coming weeks. Nathan Gerbe, who played in five games with the Sabres this season, has been on the IR, but Regier said he was getting strong and wasn’t too far away from playing again. He also said Connelly was about a week or so away from returning. Pirates’ coach Kevin Dineen canceled tomorrow’s practice for the player’s, as they will begin their Christmas holiday early. The player’s won’t have to report back to Portland until 5pm on Dec. 26.

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