Maine Hockey Journal

Ford drives Portland to 2-1 victory

Lewiston, ME – It was the new kid on the block who stole show on Sunday night. Portland Pirates goaltender Todd Ford, who signed a professional tryout agreement last week, made 36 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Manchester Monarchs in front of 3,074 fans at the Androsccogin Bank Colisee.

“It was one heck of a goaltending effort tonight,” Portland Pirates Head Coach Kevin Dineen said. “He played a whale of a game and we are all disappointed that he didn’t get that shutout. When you see a guy in practice, you sit there and form opinions. But really, it’s when you drop the puck in the game and he did a good job. ”

Ford’s only blemish came with 6.5 seconds remaining in the game as Swedish forward Oscar Moller banged home his 10th of the season.

“I am glad to get the win, that’s the most important thing right now,” Ford said. “I came close to get the shutout, but the two points is the main thing.”

At the other end of the ice, Monarchs’ goalie Jonathan Bernier returned to the barn that he called home from 2004 to 2008 as a member of the Lewiston Maineiacs. He made 19 saves in the losing effort.

“I felt good today,” said Jonathan Bernier. “We just couldn’t get a goal to get the momentum back. We played well defensively, but we couldn’t put the puck in the net.

Dineen has been impressed with the second year pro.

“Bernier is good goaltender, and a great goaltender this year,” Dineen said. “It’s always fun to watch guys develop even if they aren’t in your organization. As much as I liked that, I didn’t mind ruining his homecoming.”

The Pirates took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play. Mark Mancari released a slap shot from the top of the point 9:31 into the second period to give the Pirates the 1-0 lead. Marc-Andre Gragnani and Nathan Gerbe were credited with the assists.

“We need to get our power play going,” Dineen added. “It has been the staple of our success the last couple of months. We changed our look up a little bit because I thought we were getting stale. It didn’t work last night, but I thought we had better results tonight.”

Marc-Andre Cliché, who also spent fours with the Lewiston Maineiacs, had a great chance to tie the game up early in the third when Ford made a blind suicide pass. The puck came to Cliche’s stick, but he fired the shot high on the open cage.

“The puck was spinning so much and I put everything I wanted (into it),” Marc-Andre Cliché said. “I wanted it so bad, it just went over the net.”

“Well I went to play the puck and I looked up to see where my (defensemen) and where my wingers were,” Ford added. I looked in between my feet and panicked a little bit. I threw it up the middle and thought it would be a good idea, obviously not.”

The Pirates would strike again on the man advantage when Kevin Westgarth received two minutes for hooking and a double minor for slashing to give Portland a six minute power play. Once again it was Mark Mancari who stuffed it by Bernier with 10:16 remaining in the game.

“We had a bad turnover and it resulted in the second goal,” said Manchester Head Coach Mark Morris.

Portland couldn’t convert on the back end of the 5-on-3 power play. The Pirates were 2-for-6 for the game and Manchester was 1-for-4.

The Pirates improved to 3-0-1 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee over the last two years, but won’t play any more home games away from the Cumberland County Civic Center under the new lease agreement.

“We had success here in Lewiston, we won’t get to do anymore of that, and unfortunately that’s a part of the agreement.”

Notes: Dennis Persson left the game due to an illness and Jeff Cowen also left the game in the third period.

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