Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates kid around outdoors

South Portland, ME – The Portland Pirates looked like a bunch of kids on a beautiful winter’s day in February, enjoying hockey in its purest form.

On Tuesday, the Pirates took to the ice at Mill Creek Park in South Portland, getting away from the mid-season grind and back to a time when many of the players skated as kids in their backyard rink or local ponds.

“It’s important to get away from the rink and just come out here with the guys and have a lot of fun,” said Pirates forward Mark Mancari. “It kind of reminds you of growing up and playing when you were younger.”

Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen agreed as Portland heads into the weekend with a pair of games at the Civic Center against Adirondack and Syracuse.

“Sometimes the things you do away from the rink have as much of an effect for (game nights) as the things we’ll do in practice,” he said. “Any chance to get out is special. This is where they grew up (on the pond) and what they live for.”

“Obviously, there is a lot of enthusiasm and the makings for a good day.”

Dineen tried to hold an outdoor practice in the past in Falmouth when the Pirates were affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks, but weather forced the team inside.

“We always look for these little windows that work during the course of the schedule,” he said. “We wanted to do it in the past Mother Nature just hasn’t cooperated.”

Portland has held an outdoor practice in the past as former head coach Tim Army held an outdoor practice in Scarborough. It was much colder than, not allowing people to come out and see the team, but with temps in the high 30’s to low 40’s, the weather was on aboard, giving many around town a chance to stop by, snap a photo or two and maybe snag an autograph.

“It was great to see everyone come out and watch,” said Mancari.

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