Maine Hockey Journal

In the spirit of giving the Pirates give one away

Portland, ME – The Norfolk Admirals proved yet again why they are the top offensive team in the American Hockey League at the moment.

Down by three goals, the Admirals rallied back and scored with 33 seconds left in the game before Marc-Antoine Pouliot scored the lone goal in the shootout to pull out a 4-3 victory over the Portland Pirates in front of 5,154 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday night.

Norfolk has been red hot offensively this season, averaging nearly four goals a game, and is just four goals shy of the century mark.

For the Pirates, although one of the stronger teams in the AHL, they’ve been in a bit of a slump as of late posting a 1-3-0-1 record in their last five contests.

With injuries to Mark Parrish, who is dealing with an injury to his hip, and Travis Turnbull who is expected to have surgery on his shoulder as well as Luke Adam’s recall to Buffalo, it’s left the Pirates with only 11 healthy forwards and has forced Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen’s hand in shuffling the lineup and making adjustments to the roster.

Pirates forward Paul Byron skating vs. Norfolk Admirals (PHOTO: Chris Nordenson/Nordenson Photography)

Dineen moved defenseman Marc Andre Gragnani to left wing alongside center Paul Bryon and right wing Corey Tropp. It looked like it might pay off as the line contributed to two of the three goals scored by the Pirates on the night.

But, it came with a cost as the Pirates lost a veteran defenseman on the blueline, a blueline that is already inexperienced.

“It doesn’t help,” Dineen said on moving Gragnani up front. “He’s a veteran, and we need higher-end plays out of our backside.”

“It was the same problem we had last weekend. It’s things we talked about and tried to address. We’re taking some expensive lessons here now.”

One expensive lesson for the Pirates has been giving up goals to the opposition in the final minute of the game.

Ten times this season, the Pirates have allowed the other team to score a goal in the final minute of the game, which includes six times in the final 30 seconds, regardless of the outcome.

This time… it affected the outcome.

Mike Angelidis found the rebound at his feet, flipping the puck over Pirates goalkeeper Jhonas Enroth’s left shoulder to send the game to overtime and putting a hush over those in attendance in disbelief.

After a scoreless overtime, both goaltenders would stop the first three shooters of each team before Pouliot put one past Enroth his first shootout of the year to score the eventual game winner.

Norfolk goaltender Cedrick Desjardins looked shaky in the opening period of the game, but was solid the rest of the way, stopping all five shooters in the shootout on top of a 36-save performance.

“We got into a little bit of an exchange, chance for chance,” said Pirates coach Kevin Dineen. We got plenty of opportunities, but we feel that was an expensive point for us.”

Portland opened the scoring in the first period as Byron scored his sixth of the season when he cut to the front of the net after wheeling his way through several defenders to lift a backhander by the Norfolk netminder at the 9:25 mark of the period.

At 14:08, TJ Brennan made it 2-0 when he finished a cross-ice pass from Maxime Legault on the doorstep of the crease.

Just 2:17 later, Byron tallied his second goal of the night, picking the loose rebound away from Desjardins and roofing it under the crossbar as the Pirates scored three times on 14 shots in the opening period.

The Admirals began the comeback early in the second period, just 33 seconds to be exact, as Blair Jones took a pass from Pouliot and skated down the left wing side before using defenseman Tim Conboy as a screen, snapping a shot by Enroth from just inside the left circle.

The Pirates held a 3-1 lead late in the period when Chris Durno – who 12 games for the Pirates in the ’06-’07 season – was credited for the goal when he was credit with a power play goal on a deflection to pull the Admirals within a goal at 3-1 with 3:06 to play.

Enroth played exceptional despite the loss, stopping 43 of 46 shots on the night.

The Pirates power play was silent, going 0-for-4, while Norfolk went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.

NOTES: Earlier in the day, the Pirates announced that Brian Roloff has been signed to an AHL contract by the Buffalo Sabres. Roloff, a native of West Seneca, NY, has appeared in all 22 games for the Pirates this season, scoring five assists. The 24-year old graduate of Vermont University began the year in Portland on a professional tryout agreement, which was set to expire this weekend… More than 500 stuffed animals were tossed onto the ice tonight in the Annual Teddy Bear Toss. The toys, which will be donated to local charities, were thrown onto the ice after Byron scored his first of the night. In addition, more than $500.00 was raised during the game for Operation Tribute.

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