Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates take rubber match against the Whale

Defenseman TJ Brennan scored late in the third period for the Portland Pirates as they took the rubber match of a three-game set against the Connecticut Whale with a 3-2 win in front of 3,458 at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut on Sunday afternoon.

For the Pirates, they moved to within two points of the idle Manchester Monarchs for the Atlantic Division lead with win less than a night after giving up a 4-3 decision at the Civic Center on Saturday where they allowed the Whale to comeback on three separate occasions.

It was just eight days ago when the Pirates scored a late goal – 7.5 seconds remaining – by Derek Whitmore for a 3-2 victory against the Whale.

Brennan, who has spent time at forward this season, scored his sixth goal of the season with a shot from an odd-angle that ricocheted off the post, hitting the leg of Whale goaltender Chad Johnson before going into the net with only 3:12 remaining in the contest.

The Pirates built a 2-0 lead in the first period starting at 13:47 on a play set up by Igor Gongalsky, who let a shot go from the right circle as Justin Bowers deflected it past Johnson. It was Bowers’ third point (2G, 1A) in the three games against Connecticut.

At 16:18, Mark Parrish found the back of the net after connecting on a drop pass from Luke Adam in the slot through a screen, beating Johnson for the two-goal lead.

Connecticut cut the lead in half, 2-1, only 46 seconds later when former Pirate Tim Kennedy snapped a quick shot from the right circle, beating David Leggio to the left post.

Chad Kolarik scored the lone goal of the second period to tie the contest, 2-2, at the midway point after picking up a rebound in the Pirates end, racing down the ice on a two-on-one, taking a wrist from the top of the right circle past Leggio. Kolarik scored two goals for the Whale on Saturday night in Portland.

Leggio got the start where he made 33 saves for his 14th win (14-4-0) of the season including all three wins for the Pirates against the Whale this season.

There were only four penalties in the game with the Pirates getting three power plays, going scoreless. It was only the second time – last time was Nov. 17, 2007 – in Whale/Wolf Pack franchise history that they went an entire game without a power play.

Chad Johnson stopped 29-of-32 shots in the loss.

NOTES: Dennis McCauley, who had an assist on Justin Bowers’ first period goal, has at least one point (2G, 7A) in eight of his last 10 games… Leggio currently has a five-game winning streak where he’s posted a 1.80GAA with a .936 save percentage and one shutout.

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