Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates finish preseason strong; receive Gerbe and Weber from Buffalo

Portland, ME – On a night when the Portland Pirates finished out their exhibition schedule with a 4-2 win over the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, they received news that forward Nathan Gerbe and defenseman Mike Weber were sent down from the Buffalo Sabres, getting to the mandatory 23-man roster before the NHL’s 3pm deadline.

Going into this morning’s practice, in Buffalo, there were 26 players left in camp and some very difficult decisions that had to be made, however, with the injury to Adam Mair and Drew Stafford, the Sabres have been afforded some room for movement.

Photo by Dan Hickling

Photo by Dan Hickling

Former Pirate Tim Kennedy earned a spot on the opening night roster, beating out some very stiff competition, but the Sabres really like how he progressed over the last month.

“I really think that his confidence has grown throughout the camp and the last couple of games,” said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. “Even the chemistry he had with MacArthur and Pominville, he did a nice job.”

Whether he sticks will be up to him and the Sabres options on making space for him once Mair returns from hip surgery. He’s listed as day-to-day, but is expected to be out for several more weeks as he recuperates. Nonetheless, Kennedy knows he can’t let his guard down and get too comfortable in his position on the team.

“The hard work’s not over,” said Kennedy. “I don’t want to make the roster now and have to be sent down in two or three weeks because I played bad. I’ll keep working hard, and hopefully I can stay here the whole year.”

“It’s a huge dream come true. I can’t wait to get out of here and call my family and friends. The last few days everyone’s been calling our house after practice. I’ve just been giving them the same story. I don’t know what’s going on yet. There’s still too much going on. It’ll be real special to let my family and friends know that I made the team.”

For Nathan Gerbe and Mike Weber, there was obvious disappointment to learn that they didn’t make the roster. Gerbe, who was one the more prolific scorers in Portland, often had difficultly scoring in Buffalo. Over the last couple of preseason games, he seemed to find his groove, but with Kennedy playing as well as he did, it was going to be tough for the Sabres to keep him.

“I think in his case, he’s going to have to be a prolific scorer to make it,” said Ruff. “I liked his last couple of exhibition games. I thought they were more complete games, complete shifts. He did things inside his shift that could really make him effective.”

“I think the pace from the American League to here is different, and I think he adjusted and made a difference the last couple of games.”

Weber, missed most of the second-half of last season with a shoulder injury that required surgery and it showed during the preseason – at least in Ruff’s point of view.

“I thought camp started slow (for Weber),” Ruff said. “The first preseason game was a tough one for him. But then realizing that he hadn’t played a lot after the injury last year and having the surgery, he got into a little bit of a groove.”

“I thought the last game was a tougher game on him again. I think it is just getting in a groove and playing games and becoming just a real tough defender again. I think sometimes a player faces that anxiety of, ‘I got to make it. I got to make it now.’ He looks around and sees a Myers here, and maybe how well he’s been playing. We spend more time talking about Myers. We sometimes try to do too much. He was just trying to do a little bit too much to make an impression.”

“I think he’s an NHL defenseman when he keeps his game simple.”

With Gerbe and Weber on their way to Portland, the Pirates still had an exhibition game to play, taking on the defending CIS champions UNB Varsity Reds.

Coming into the game, the Reds were 5-0 as part of their whirlwind exhibition schedule. After tonight’s game, they will travel to UMass-Amherst for a game on Saturday before traveling to Vermont for a Sunday afternoon game against the Catamounts.

It was a much closer game than the 4-2 score might indicate as the game was tied 2-2 after 40 minutes of play.

The Pirates opened the scoring at 8:02 of the first period with goal from Tyler Ennis, his second of the preseason, sliding backhander past UNB goalie Derek Yeomans.

Hunter Trembly tied the game for the V-Reds with a powerplay goal when he found the rebound at his feet, stuffing it past Jhonas Enroth at 17:08 of the first period.

At 3:32 of the second period, the Pirates regained the lead on a goal by Paul Byron as scored his third goal of the preseason.

Again, with 4:30 left in the second period, Daine Todd tied the game, 2-2, for UNB on a deflection that snuck past Enroth on the shortside.

Marc-Andre Gragnani, playing in his second game since being sent down from Buffalo, gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead when his shot beat former Lewiston Maineiacs’ goalie Travis Fullerton at 4:24 of the third period.

With 1:31 left in the game, Derek Whitmore put the game out of reach for the V-Reds with his second goal of the preseason.

Jhonas Enroth played the first two periods, stopping 26 of 28 shots faced, while backup JP Lamoureux played the third period, stopping all eight shots he faced. For UNB, Derek Yeomans stopped nine of 11 shot he face before being pulled in favor of Fullerton, who also stopped nine of 11 shots on the night.

Both teams scored on the power play as Portland went 1-for-5 and UNB was 1-for-4 on the night.

NOTES: The Pirates have concluded their preseason schedule going 2-1-0, and will now prepare for Saturday night’s season opener against the Springfield Falcons in Springfield Mass. Tyler Ennis led the team in exhibition scoring with six points (2g, 4a), followed by Wanvig (1g, 4a), Persson (4a), Byron (3g) and Gragnani (1g, 2a).
Mark Mancari played in his first action since his contract holdout.

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