Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates let a golden opportunity get away

Portland, ME – If the Portland Pirates have any intention on making the playoffs, they can’t afford to let many situations like tonight get away.

After building a 3-0 lead in the first period on the Worcester Sharks, the Pirates gave up four unanswered goals to lose 4-3 in front of 2,887 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Wednesday night.

The loss kept the Pirates in fourth place, two points behind third-place Hartford in the standings.

“We let them dictate the pace of the game in our building and that’s what happens, you get embarrassed,” said Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen. “

Felix Schutz gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead with a power play goal at 7:44 of the first period when he redirected the rebound from Sharks’ netminder Thomas Greiss into an empty net.

Kyle Rank skating down the right side, found Tim Kennedy in the slot, who snapped a quick shot past Greiss for a 2-0 lead at 14:10 of the period.

It was Kennedy’s first goal since Nov. 19 when he scored in a 4-2 win in Hartford.

Kennedy added his second of the night as Brett Westgarth turned the puck over behind the net, onto the stick of Kennedy in slot.

Kennedy ripped a shot past Greiss’ right pad to extend the Pirates lead to 3-0 just 59 seconds later at 15:09 of the first period.

“He’s a good player for us,” Dineen said. He’s always been a good player, but I need more than one bullet in the gun.”

In the second period, the Sharks pulled to within a goal scoring a pair just 43 seconds apart in the final 3:49 of the period.

Sharks’ defenseman Patrick Traverse scored his sixth of the season with shot from the left face off circle trickled through Enroth’s legs at 16:11 of the second period.

At 16:54, the Sharks scored a controversial goal, cutting the Pirates lead to one goal at 3-2.

Worcester’s Jason Demers fired a shot from the high slot, stopped by Enroth as Brad Staubitz and Tim Kennedy crashed the net, knocking it off the moorings. Andrew Desjardins wristed a short lob shot over Enroth into the net.

After several minutes of discussion, referee Chris Brown ruled it was a goal because Kennedy pushed Staubitz into the net knocking it off the moorings.

“It was obvious that not only was the net off, but it was their player who knocked the player over and ran the net off so the goal shouldn’t have counted, it was clear cut it shouldn’t have counted,” said Dineen. “But, we don’t have instant replay in this league and there is nothing we can do. We could have argued til the cows come home, but all you had to do was look at the video.”

With 7:58 left in the game, Ryan Vesce scored his 51st point as he tied the game for the Sharks with a goal, catching the far post with a wide shot on net.

Jamie McGinn scored the game-winning goal, beating Enroth with a rebound shot with 1:28 left in the game.

Lukas Kaspar added an empty-net goal at 19:36 to seal the victory for Worcester.

Thomas Greiss, who got off to a shaky start, made 19 saves for the win, while Enroth once again was the Pirates best player making 33 saves in the loss.

An ominous omission in the third period was Mark Mancari, who had his ice time was severely cut.

“I was trying to find the best way to win the hockey game,” said Dineen.

NOTES: In a welcomed addition to the Pirates, the Buffalo Sabres assigned Marc-Andre Gragnani to Portland late this afternoon after Teppo Numminen was activated from the IR. Gragnani was late arriving to the game and didn’t skate until the third period. He was recalled Jan 24., played in four games with the Sabres, going scoreless. Also returning to the lineup is Dylan Hunter, who missed eight games with a concussion.

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