Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates offense rallies for victory in season opener

Portland, ME – This wasn’t a game for the ages, but the Portland Pirates got the job done, holding on for a 6-5 victory in the season opener against the Manchester Monarchs in front of 4,631 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Luke Adam led the charge with two goals and two assists as the Pirates rallied from a one goal deficit in the third period.

“I think that’s a snapshot of his potential,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen, “it all got wrapped up in one game. He’s still young, he got a lot of growing to do, but he brought (his talent) out and put it on display tonight.”

With the Pirates down a goal in the period, Adam tied the game at 11:54 when he redirected a cross-ice pass from Mark Mancari past Monarchs goalie Jeff Zatkoff to tie the game at 4-4.

A little less than four minutes later, at 15:39, Adam took another pass from Mancari, sending a backhander past Zatkoff as Portland took a 5-4 lead.

“Luke (Adam) had a real solid game, but I give a lot of credit to Mark Mancari, who made beautiful plays on both those goals,” said Dineen.

Mancari added an empty netter, which proved to be the game-winner as Manchester’s David Meckler scored his second goal of the game with .1 seconds left on the game clock.

“It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it was a heck of an entertaining game for the fans,” Dineen added. “Those (games) are tough ones for coaches for both sides, but it gives us a basis of lot of things to work on.”

The Pirates dominated the early portion of the first period as Manchester didn’t get their first shot on goal until midway into the start of the game.

Derek Whitmore opened the season by scoring the first goal of the game, pouncing on the rebound from Adam in the slot with a wrist shot into the net, past Monarchs’ netminder Jeff Zatkoff.

At 10:37, the Monarchs, starting to find their stride, scored when Richard Clune slipped the puck behind a downed Jhonas Enroth to tie the game at 1-1.

Less than two minutes later, with the Pirates killing a Dennis McCauley elbowing penalty, Matt Ellis outworked Monarchs’ defenseman Alec Martinez to give Portland a 2-1 lead on a shorthanded goal as he sent a backhander by Zatkoff.

Again, the Monarchs tied the game, 2-2, at 15:55 of the first period when Dwight King, who was in the crease, tapped the rebound by Enroth.

Whitmore put the Pirates out front for the third time in the game when his snap shot trickled between Zatkoff’s right arm just 1:30 into the period for his second goal of the game.

“I’m still experimenting in different areas and I know that I can play him in different roles,” said Dineen. “It doesn’t bother him. Where ever he’s playing he’s going to go out there and give you a 100%. He’s going to find a way to do good things when he’s on the ice.”

It was a short-lived lead as Meckler fired a wrist shot from the left circle, catching Enroth from an odd angle only 29 seconds after Whitmore’s goal.

Manchester took the lead, 4-3, on a shorthanded goal by Corey Elkins midway into the period before the Pirates began their comeback.

Enroth made 23 saves for the win, while Jeff Zatkoff stopped 17 of 22 shots in the loss.

Portland was 0-for-6 on the power play, while Manchester was 1-for-3 with the man advantage.

NOTES: Matt Ellis, Mark Parrish and Mark Mancari were all wearing the “A” for the Pirates. Dineen said that he will look to name a captain later next week.

Former Pirate Tim Kennedy returned to Buffalo as a member of the New York Rangers for the first time since this summer’s drama, which saw the 24-year old bought out by the Sabres. Kennedy was a healthy scratch for the Rangers, but the feelings of being in the building left him to deal with a swell of emotions.

“It was weird, because when I walked in, I came one way and Chris Butler came the other way,” said Kennedy. “And, that’s how we walked in together last year. So it was kind of weird, but it was kind of funny at the same. And we just talked for a little bit, and he went his way, and I went my way.”

“It is emotional. It’s always fun when you can come back home. Last night, I spent the night with my family. There’s not going to be too many times that happens this year. I just kind of took that for granted last year. It was nice to see them.”

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