Maine Hockey Journal

Frustration evident in Pirates loss

Portland, ME – It was a night of many frustrations for the Portland Pirates.

The Pirates, leading 1-0 after 40 minutes of play, couldn’t hold the lead as the Manchester Monarchs scored three goals in the third period to hold on for the 3-2 victory in front of 5,698 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday night.

The Pirates were all ready playing shorthanded due to injuries, but were shorthanded even further after Marc-Andre Gragnani came down with an illness.

“Gragnani came down with the flu,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen. “He was just way to sick to play.”

Earlier in the day, Dineen brought in Cliff Loya from the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL because of Paul Baier’s broken jaw. Loya would be credited with an assist on Mark Mancari’s goal in the third period.

“We’ve been very fortunate that our call-ups have played some pretty solid hockey for us,” said Dineen. (Loya) fit right in and I was extremely happy with how he played.”

The Pirates began the scoring when Aaron Slattengren drove to the net from the left faceoff circle, stuffing the puck by Monarchs’ goalie Dan Taylor at 7:13 of the second period.

At 19:59 of the second period, the Monarchs were awarded a penalty shot after referee Terry Koharski indicated that Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth threw his stick – which the replay clearly indicated was not the case. Enroth made the save on Trevor Lewis, who tried to lift the puck over his left leg pad.

After the save, the Pirates were clearly not happy with Koharski, who whistled Tim Kennedy for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Monarchs a two-man advantage for 56 seconds.

Portland killed off the five-on-three, but Manchester finally broke through Enroth at 4:55 of the third period when Dusty Collins picked up the rebound, sneaking it by a diving Enroth.

At 8:59, the Monarchs took the lead, 2-1, for the first time as Ryan Murphy, on top of the crease, buried Brad Richardson’s pass from behind the net past Enroth.

“My bench management wasn’t very good tonight,” said Dineen. “Take a skilled player out of our lineup like Gragnani and it’s a big hole. We need to make sure we are prepared for those kinds of situations. We got caught off guard a little bit by his illness and I don’t think I balanced (the lineup) very well from there.”

Portland tied the game at 14:04 of the third period on a goal by Mark Mancari, his 16th of the season, with a bullet from the high slot that beat Taylor above the glove, squaring the game at 2-2.

Just 2:21 later, the Monarchs regained the lead for good after Scott Parse sprung David Meckler for a breakaway into the offensive zone. Enroth made the initial save, but Meckler tapped the rebound by Enroth for the 3-2 lead with 3:35 left in the game.

With 43 seconds left in the period, the Pirates had a six-on-four power play for the remainder of the game as Gabe Gauthier was called for a double minor because of a high-stick to Kennedy across the mouth.

Kennedy in obvious pain crawled off the ice and immediately attended to by medical staff. Dineen didn’t know how long Kennedy might miss because of the injury.

“He’s got a serious mouth injury and it’s going to be a look night for him, for sure.”

The frustration boiled over for the Pirates after the officials missed the placement of faceoff because as Dineen argued, it was a delayed penalty on the Monarchs and the faceoff should have been in the offensive zone.

Instead, it was brought out of the zone after the linesmen claimed the puck was tipped out of play.

The Pirates had one more shot on goal, but Taylor held the fort for Manchester, making 26 saves for the win, while Enroth again played well only to come up on the wrong side on the win-loss column, stopping 32 of 35 shots.

NOTES: The Pirates infirmary ward continues to grow as the flu has swept through the Pirates locker room, infecting not only Gragnani, but Derek Whitmore as well. That’s on top of the several players – Hunter, Baier, Bouck, Murphy, Funk and Dennis who are currently out due to injury. The Pirates next game is at home on Monday against the Hartford Wolf Pack at 1:00pm. Former NHL player Willie O’Ree will be hand to drop the ceremonial puck as well as Diego from Nickelodeon’s “Go Diego Go” who will be on hand for a visit.

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