Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates back into win column with shutout

Portland, ME – For the first time in nearly three months, the Portland Pirates had a healthy roster on the ice, and it showed as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead and cruised to the victory over the Manchester Monarchs in front of 5,556 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Because of player’s returning from injury, it’s led to some difficult decisions for Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen, as was the case when the Clear Day roster was released on Thursday and Pirates’ forward Felix Schutz was left off that list.

“I can’t remember when I’ve had this number of options,” said Dineen. “Just because we won, 4-0, it doesn’t mean that our players are not under evaluation.”

Brad Larsen, who missed last weekend’s action with bumps and bruises, opened the scoring for the Pirates late in the first period as he shoveled Derek Whitmore’s shot into an open net as Monarchs’ goalie Jeff Zatkoff was caught out of position.

It turned out to be one of three power play goals on the night for the Pirates.

“I like the way we’re an assertive bunch,” Dineen. “We’re jumping (into the play) at the right times. We’re doing a good job and that’s a great credit to our players and (Eric) Weinrich.”

Jeff Cowan wasted little time doubling the Pirates lead, 2-0, when he blasted a slap shot by Zatkoff only 23 seconds into the second period.

At 3:21, the Pirates made it 3-0 as Paul Byron picked up his own rebound and lifted the puck over Zatkoff for the Pirates second power play goal of the game.

“It was a nice way to come back home,” Dineen. “The building had a nice buzz to it. I thought the last three games we didn’t have great starts. Our guys stuck with the game plans and every single player on the bench had good jump tonight.”

Manchester nearly scored late in the second period as Patrick Mullen rang a shot off the post with Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth down and out on the play.

Gabe Gauthier was sent off for interference with 54 seconds left in the period, and the Pirates, who already had pair of power play goals, capitalized as Tyler Ennis scored on a breakaway with .8 seconds left in the period, giving the Pirates at 4-0 lead.

Ennis missed the last three games with a concussion after being hit in the face with a stick by Jay Harrison of the Albany River Rats.

“My body felt good, got some rest, and I was really excited to go,” said Ennis.

Enroth finished the night with 29 saves for his fifth shutout this season, while Jeff Zatkoff stopped 28 of 32 in the loss.

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