Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates, past and present, well represented at the All-Star Classic

Worcester, Mass. – The Portland Pirates are well represented at this year’s All-Star Classic in Worcester, Mass.

Although, Mark Mancari is the only current Pirate to represent the team, there is certainly a Pirates theme with six former Pirates taking part in the weekend’s festivities, including Chicago Wolves Assistant Coach Jason Christie and Hershey Bears Head Coach Bob Woods.

Mancari was one of the three Pirates named to All-Star game this season along with Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy, but illness and injury has kept both Gerbe and Kennedy out the event for the weekend.

Mancari, himself, is not feeling well and is looking forward to a few days off, but wouldn’t pass up the chance to play in the event.

“I definitely need a little bit of a break,” he said. “I’ve been battling a little bit of the flu and nagging injuries. It will be nice to have a day or two off when I get back.”

“I wouldn’t change this for anything, its fun to be out there and an honor.”

Mancari is taking part in his second straight All-Star event, as he was a member of AHL Canadian All-Stars representing the Rochester Americans in 2007-08, where he established a new record in the hardest shot competition with a shot of 102.8 mph.

He didn’t get to defend his record, but wasn’t too upset once he knew the record held.

“It’s the way it goes sometimes, but that’s fine,” he said. “The record is still there and hopefully it’s there for a little while.”

Other former Pirates, who were taking part in the event, were Brandon Segal (Norfolk Admirals) and Head Coach Bob Woods, both part of the AHL Canadian All-Star team.

Segal played part of last season with the Pirates after signing a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks, Portland former NHL parent club. He spent 54 games with the Pirates, scoring 14 points before being part of a trade to Norfolk that sent Jay Leach to Portland.

“I really enjoyed Portland,” said Segal. “It was a great town, an unbelievable place to play hockey with there fans and I really like the rink.”

“When you play (in Portland) it’s such a great atmosphere.”

Woods only played five games with the Pirates during the 1995-96 season, after being recalled from the former ECHL team in Hampton Roads.

The PlanetUSA All-Star team boasts four former Pirates, including one of the most beloved Pirates of all-time in Jason Christie.

Christie, who hasn’t been in the Northeast for several years, has worked his way up the coaching ladder, landing a prime gig as an assistant coach with the Chicago Wolves, farm team of the Atlanta Thrashers joining another former Pirate behind the bench in Todd Nelson.

“That was the first thing we talked about this summer,” he said. “We talked for almost three hours about Portland and our memories of the rink, fans and people we met during our time there.”

Affectionately called Smurf by those who adored him in Portland, he played with heart and passion despite being small in stature.

Christie played 177 games over four seasons with the Pirates, scoring 33 goals, 76 assists for 109 points with 207 penalty minutes. He’s probably best known for his play during the ’95-’96 season when the Pirates went to the Calder Cup finals, falling just short losing to the Rochester Americans in seven games.

“I’ve got a lot of fond memories of Portland,” said Christie. “The city of Portland was awesome and it was a great group of guys, it was great support from the fans to Mr. Ebright.”

“Its family I will always remember.”

Once his playing days were over, he went right into coaching, taking the head coach job with the Peoria Rivermen of the ECHL where he spent five seasons. After coaching the Utah Grizzlies for the last three years, he was tabbed by new Wolves head coach Don Granato to be an assistant at the AHL level.

Christie would still love to get back to Portland in the near future, as his wife Kelly is from Maine and holds many fond memories of the Civic Center and the fans in Portland.

“There was such a great excitement to the game,” he said. “It didn’t matter what we were doing as far as promotions and Mr. Ebright with his jersey, greeting the fans or driving his little car on the ice and then drive to Albany to meet us. The group of guys we had played so tight.”

One of Christie players, Joe Motzko is another former Pirate, spending one season with Portland after he was part of a trade for Zenon Konopka. He represented the Pirates in the 2006 at the All-Star Classic in Toronto, shortly after being dealt.

When the Anaheim Ducks left Portland after last season, several former players went with the team to their new home in Des Moines, Iowa. Defenseman Brian Salcido was named to the All-Star game, after another former Pirate Drew Miller couldn’t attend because he was being recalled to Anaheim.

Salcido, currently with the Iowa Chops, played two seasons with the Pirates where he broke the record for most points by a defenseman in 2007-08, scoring 53 points (11g 42a) in 71 games.

Salcido said that he misses Portland, its atmosphere and its preferred travel schedule – compared to the Pirates – but he misses playing in front of a hockey mad crowd at the Civic Center.

“(Des Moines) is a lot different than I thought,” he said. “I went there expecting corn fields, but it’s actually a pretty cool place.”

“I don’t know if it tops Portland, but it’s a nice place to live. I loved Portland, playing in the Civic Center and taking advantage of visiting teams coming in.”

Chris Bourque, the son of NHL Hall of Fame player Ray Bourque, played only six games for Portland during the 2004-05 season, as the Washington Capitals tenure in Portland was coming to an end. However, he may be best known for his time with Hershey and the famous battles with Portland during the Eastern Conference Finals in 2006.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply