Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates end 2015 in winning fashion

Portland Pirates regular season contest against the Providence Bruins at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine on 12/31/2015. (PHOTO: Michael McSweeney/Portland Pirates)

Portland Pirates regular season contest against the Providence Bruins at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine on 12/31/2015. (PHOTO: Michael McSweeney/Portland Pirates)

PORTLAND – The Portland Pirates scored three power-play goals within a three-minute span in the third period to earn a 4-3 victory against the Providence Bruins before a season-high crowd of 5,175 in the annual New Year’s Eve game at the Cross Insurance Arena.

The Pirates (17-12-1-0) had their six-game win streak snapped Tuesday against Hartford but are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games.

With 27 seconds remaining in the second period and the Pirates down, 2-1, Providence defenseman Brett Bellemore was given a double minor for high sticking.

With a fresh sheet of ice to start the third period, Rocco Grimaldi scored his fifth of the season, putting home a loose puck past the former University of North Dakota teammate Zane McIntyre during the second half of the double minor.

“It was our game to be had,” said Portland Pirates acting head coach Scott Allen. “We had a double minor, and we certainly didn’t like our start tonight. We felt we came out poorly, and they took it to us early on. As the game progressed, we got better.”

Allen was acting head coach due to the absence of head coach Tom Rowe, who was attending to personal matters.

“It was an easier transition than I thought (it would be),” said Shane Harper. “Scotty did a really good job. He’s been with Tom for a while. I played for Scotty in Chicago three years ago, and he did a really good job. You couldn’t really tell honestly. It was a seamless transition.”

Grimaldi, who left the game in the first period after the puck deflected off a stick, hitting him in the right cheek, knew what to look for in facing his former teammate.

“With Zane, it’s tough, he’s a great goaltender,” said Grimaldi who was sporting fresh stitches. “Obviously, you saw the year he had last year – almost winning the Hobey Baker as a goalie that is pretty much unheard of now – he’ a great goaltender. I knew that if I got a chance I could hopefully pop one by him, but I needed to bear down because I know how good he is. That’s one thing I do remember about him in practice, if there’s a loose puck anywhere, some goalies will let you score and move onto the next shot. He will battle until that play was done.”

McIntyre made 25 saves on the night.

Just before Grimaldi’s goal, there was a delayed slashing minor to Tommy Cross just 1:49 into the third period, keeping the Pirates on the power play.

The Pirates grabbed their first lead of the game when Rob Flick scored his fourth of the season at the 3:34 mark with Dylan Olsen and Shane Harper recording the assists.

Bellemore found himself in the box again after taking a delay of game penalty, flipping the puck over the glass just 30 seconds after Flick’s goal.

John McFarland, who has a goal in his last three games, notched his 11th goal of the season on team’s fifth power play of the night at 4:47 of the third period.

The Pirates were 3-for-6 on the power play while Providence was 0-for-3.

The Pirates are 10-for-41 on the man advantage the last ten games including 5-for-10 the past two games.

“We haven’t had the most success on the power play this year, but now we are getting into the swing of things.” Harper said. “It’s something we have been focusing all year long – what I said earlier – is setting up the puck. Once we have the puck, we have some very good personal that can move the puck around and make plays. Now it’s starting to show, we are starting to put the pucks (in) on the power plays.”

The Bruins would make a late charge for a comeback attempt as Colton Hargrove scored with 45 seconds left in the contest. Brandon DeFazio recorded the assist.

After a scoreless first period, Providence jumped out to the 1-0 3:17 into the second period when Matt Irwin’s slap shot from the top of the left circle found its way past Mike McKenna, who didn’t get a clear look at the shot The assist went to former Lewiston Maineiacs draft pick, Zach Phillips.

“The first goal was an unfortunate situation for Mike, Terry Koharski is one of the best refs in the American Hockey League, but I think he missed a goalie interference,” Allen said. “That does happen, but we bounced back.”

McKenna stopped 31 shots as he won his eighth straight game in a row.

Harper tied the contest up just a little over eight minutes later for his fourth goal of the season. Kyle Rau, who has four goals, four assists in eight games, and Jonathan Racine notched the assist.

The Bruins took the lead, 2-1, heading into the first intermission when Frank Simonelli scored his first goal of the season.

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