Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates theme is more grit, more passion

With only a handful of players skating, the Portland Pirates officially “unofficially” opened training camp at the Portland Ice Arena on Friday.

On Wednesday, the Buffalo Sabres sent 12 players to the Pirates, and for those who arrived, they spent most of their time working on skating drills and playing a little two-on-two shinny.

Despite the number of players in camp, Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen was pleased with the outcome as he begins the molding process.

“There’s not a lot of bodies out there,” said Dineen. “My feeling is guys had taken a couple days off, but there is a lot of travel involved so what we’ve done is try to put together some practices that aren’t physically taxing.”

“We’re working on our skill set and getting our feet going.”

Derek Whitmore, who cleared waivers yesterday, is one player very much looking forward to the upcoming season, and the potential role he’ll be playing on the team. With the loss of Tyler Ennis and potentially Nathan Gerbe, Whitmore, who is in his third pro season, is going to be counted on to provide offense for the Pirates as well as be a leader in the dressing.

“Yeah, I definitely think I’ll be counted on and it’s something that already been talked about,” said Whitmore. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge. If my offensive role changes a little bit and I need to be more offensive, I’ll do what it takes.”

However, he won’t have to go it alone this season, as the Pirates might have lost some offensive flair on the roster, they’re compete level is higher this season, and they appear to have become a grittier team on the ice with the addition of Colin Stuart, Tim Conboy and Dennis McCauley.

Photos by Dan Hickling

McCauley, who spent last season with Worcester, was signed as a free agent by the Sabres because of his ability to play physical and score goals. A challenge the Billerica, Mass. native is more than willing to accept.

“In order to make it to the next level, you have to do it all,” said McCauley. “I’m not afraid to fight, get hit, that’s my job to crash and bang. Not too many players can score a hat trick and fight.”

In 45 games last season with Worcester, McCauley scored 14 points including 10 goals, which Dineen felt mostly all of them were scored against the Pirates.

Dineen was really impressed with his work ethic and his ability to play the body along the boards, get into scraps, if needed, and basically do what’s asked of him a game-by-game basis. Buffalo also took notice of the 25-year old during training camp, which certainly can’t hurt McCauley future NHL aspirations.

“He had 10 goals last season, but I bet six of them were against (Portland),” said Dineen. “He’s a fairly abrasive player, but what impressed me about him last year was his skill set and that’s what carried over in Buffalo. His ability to move (his feet) for a guy of his size and make plays and he has a quality shot.”

“He certainly one of those guys that the first thing mentioned about him is the enthusiasm he brings to your locker room and to the rest of your team. We look at him as a guy with good potential.”

In other camp news, Rob Ricci and Alex Petizian were brought into camp on a tryout basis. Ricci played last season for the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL where he scored 25 goals and 25 assists for 50 points in 72 games.

Petizian, 23, just finished his senior year at St. Lawrence University where he went 5-6-3 with a 3.04GAA and a .901 save percentage.

Neither is expected to make the roster, but will give the Pirates coaching staff a look at potential depth should and when injuries happen.

NOTES: Tim Conboy and Nick Crawford were not at camp today. Both were traveling to Portland today and are expected to be at practice tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, the Pirates will officially open their training camp at Portland Ice Arena with practice beginning at 6pm.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply