Maine Hockey Journal

It’s do or die for the Pirates

Portland, ME – Nobody needs to tell the Portland Pirates the importance of tonight’s game against the Manchester Monarchs at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

The Pirates sit one point back of the Monarchs for third place in the Atlantic Division, while the Worcester Sharks sit tied with Portland at 71 points. By the end of the night, the Pirates could be sitting alone in third place or in fifth place on the outside looking in.

“There is a sense of urgency, the guys know what’s at stake here,” said Pirates’ forward Derek Whitmore. “It definitely a huge game for a team and hopefully we are ready because tonight’s the biggest game of the year.”

This is a precarious position for the Pirates to be in after they started the season on fire, going 12-1-1-1. Since that time, they’ve struggled to put wins together on a consistent basis and haven’t had a month over .500 since Dec.

“Being 10 or 12 points up on the next team you get that complacency, and that crept into our game and now we have to play desperate,” said Whitmore.

“Unfortunately, we put ourselves in that position.’

The Pirates haven’t had much success at the Verizon Wireless Arena as they’ve haven’t won a game (0-3-0) in Manchester this season, while the 4-C’s have been a much friendlier place as the Pirates are 3-1-0.

Manchester has been a very hot team, although they’ve cooled off as of late, losing their last two games (4-2 vs. Worcester; 3-1 vs. Lowell). Prior to those the losses, the Monarchs went 8-1-0-1 moving from the cellar of the Atlantic Division to the middle of the playoff pack.

It helps when they have a goalie like former Maineiac netminder Jonathan Bernier, who has gone 6-2-0, winning six straight during that span.

The Pirates will have their hands full, but they know what’s at stake.

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The Pirates had a different look on defense this morning as Pirates’ coach Kevin Dineen now has options when making decisions on the blueline. Geoff Waugh, just acquired from Binghamton, last Wednesday for Aaron Slattengren is expected to in the lineup tonight.

Matt Macdonald has started to begun skating after missing the last three games with a lower body injury.

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