Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates prevail past Lowell to keep pace in playoff race

Portland, ME – At this time of the season, it’s all about taking care of business at home.

The Portland Pirates did that tonight, albeit with a bit of a scare in the third period as they held on for a 3-2 win over the Lowell Devils in front of 5,005 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The win allowed the Pirates to keep pace with the Worcester Sharks, who prevailed, 3-2, against the Springfield Falcons as both teams pulled to within a point of the Manchester Monarchs, a team who the Pirates will battle tomorrow in a crucial match. The Monarchs will be without the services of forward Brian Boyle who was recalled to the Los Angeles Kings earlier in the day.

“At the end of the day what we’re looking for it points and that’s a big game for us tonight,” said Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen. “We know every team is playing so hard right now, that not only is going to be every night, but it’s literally that full sixty minutes.”

After a scoreless first period, the Pirates struck first with a goal at 2:04 of the second period in a day that was full emotion, as former owner, the late Tom Ebright, was being inducted into the Portland Pirates Hall of Fame.

Tim Kennedy, at the right boards, skated with the puck toward the slot snapping a quick shot by Lowell Devils’ goalie Jeff Frazee, who came out of the crease in an attempt to poke the puck away.

At 15:15, the Pirates made it 2-0 as Marek Zagrapan scored a power play when he tipped Mark Mancari’s slap shot from the left face off circle past Frazee.

The Pirates power play continues to click as they improved to 9-for-25 in their last five games.

“We’re beyond the developing stage, we’re looking to win games now,” said Dineen. “If I see somebody with some jump in their step, they’re going to play some hockey.”

With 2:32 left in the second period, the Pirates made it 3-0 when Marc-Andre Gragnani let a blast go from the top of the right circle that buzzed over Frazee’s shoulder.

The Pirates were in control for 40 minutes and appeared in position to easily skate away with the win, but as seen many times in the past, the Pirates haven’t been able to seal the deal.

At 6:42 of the third period, Stephen Gionta scored his first goal of the season when stuffed the puck by Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth at the right post, cutting into the Pirates lead 3-2.

It remained a two-goal lead until in the final minute of the game when Nicklas Bergfors got a piece of the puck on his stick from Jon DiSalvatore’s back hand shot in the slot, beating Enroth with 29 seconds left in the game.

The Pirates were able to close it out, but not without some tense moments in the final half-minute of the game.

“We have to do better in that last 20 minutes,” said Pirates’ forward Mark Mancari, who netted two assists on the night. “We didn’t play the way we did in the first 40 minutes. If we play the same game and they come out (in the third period) and play harder, we’ve got to change the way we play.”

“That’s what happen they came out and worked extremely hard and we didn’t change the way we played.”

NOTES: Dennis Persson the Sabres’ first round draft pick (24th overall) in the 2006 NHL Draft didn’t dress for tonight’s game against the Devils. Dineen said he would be in the lineup before the weekend was over and spoke to Persson high level of talent almost comparing him to having the same skill set as former Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils defenseman Larry Robinson, who was in attendance tonight. Beside Ebright being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Dineen had his own achievement on the night as he surpassed former Pirates coach Barry Trotz as the all-time leader in wins for the Pirates head coach with 190 victories.

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