Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates get the breaks in win over Bears

Portland, ME — The Portland Pirates certainly took step in the right direction as they attempt to dig themselves out of their early season woes with a convincing 5-0 win over the defending Calder Cup Champions Hershey Bears in front of a near sellout crowd of 6,621 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Friday night.

A large factor for the win was due in part to JP Lamoureux, who made 28 saves for his first career AHL shutout, after being thrusted into the starting role when Jhonas Enroth was recalled by the Sabres on Wednesday to replace an injured Patrick Lalime.

“I thought he played excellent,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen. “He did a really good job with (having) patience. There was no panic to his game, he gobbled up a lot of rebounds. It was a well-deserved shut out by (Lamoureux) and a well-earned no-goal game by the team.”

Lamoureux was aware of his role when he signed with Buffalo during the summer as the #2 goalie behind Enroth.

“That kind of why I was brought in here,” he said. “It’s Jhonas’ job here and I came in to support him.”

“Hopefully, I’ll take a little pressure off him and make him feel like he doesn’t have to win every single game. I try to prepare like I’m going to start every game, even if I don’t, I try to be ready to be thrown in the fire.”

The Pirates started the game with only 11 forwards, at times near the end of the game played only with nine forwards, due to injuries to forwards Nathan Gerbe, Brad Larsen and Paul Byron, which forced Dineen to shift his lines at times, playing Dennis Persson at forward.

“You have to find some balance and make sure guys are logging too much ice time,” he said. “You don’t go to the same bullet all the time.”

One bullet Dineen could reload his gun with was Cody McCormick, who returned to the lineup after missing the last five games due to a suspension. Dineen was happy with his effort for his first game in nearly three weeks.

“He did a good job,” said Dineen. “His physical presence was there and I liked how strong he was on the puck.”

Portland opened the scoring midway into the first period when Kyle Wanvig notched his third goal of the season, since joining the Pirates on a professional tryout in Mid-October.

Phillip Gogulla drawing the defense toward the right half-boards, dished the puck to Wanvig, who ripped a shot from the left hash-mark, beating Bears’ goalie Jason Bacashihua, giving Portland a 1-0 lead at 8:46 of the first period.

At 13:04, the Pirates made it 2-0 when they scored only their sixth power play goal season at the Civic Center as Jeff Cowan was in the right spot, at the right time.

Mike Kostka, at the right point, blasted a shot on goal that hit Cowan in the pant leg and deflected into the net.

“It was a little lucky,” Cowan said. “You get the lucky ones some time. (The puck) went off my pant leg and went into the net. I was there trying to cause havoc and sometimes you get those lucky ones.”

After a scoreless second period, the Pirates extended their lead, 3-0, when Derek Whitmore scored a goal at 2:58 that even caught him by surprise.

With the Bears controlling the puck behind their own net, Whitmore attacked the puck carrier, Francois Bouchard, knocking him off-balance into the net. As Bouchard laid on the back of net with it tipped over Bacashihua, Whitmore swung around the goal and snapped a quick shot into a defenseless net as the rest of the players on the ice expected a whistle, stopping play, but it never came as the official promptly ruled a goal.

“The whistle hadn’t blow yet, so I’m like why not try to shoot it,” Whitmore said. “It surprised me that I had the puck and there was no whistle so I did what anyone would do and shot it on net and I looked at the ref and he’s pointing (goal) so I’m like ok, lets celebrate this one.”

At 9:37, Travis Turnbull scored his first of the season when he made nice rush up the ice, cutting across the front of the net, stuffing it by Bacashihua, giving Portland a commanding 4-0 lead.

With 7:05 left in the game, Mark Mancari made it 5-0 when he skated to the bottom of the left faceoff circle, throwing a shot toward the net that deflected on something, going between the legs of Bacashihua. It was Portland’s second powerplay goal of the night and only the second time this season they’ve scored more than one power play goal.

“Hopefully, this is the start of something new for us,” said Cowan. “We’ve played well at home all year, but it’s a nice game to be on the (winning) side, and to have 5-0 lead on a team like (Hershey). They’re a great team.

NOTES: Besides Larsen(fractured foot), Gerbe (concussion-like symptoms) and Byron (upper body contusions), the Pirates were also without Marc-Andre Gragnani, who is suffering from a right leg injury. Because Enroth is on recall to Buffalo for the foreseeable future, the Pirates signed Ryan Nie to a PTO. Nie, 24, played for Kalamazoo Wings where he was 3-0-1 in four games this season, with a 2.21 GAA and .926 save percentage.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply