Maine Hockey Journal

8.) Pirates’ Brochu wows the crowd in Binghamton

Martin Brochu was a special goaltender, making his mark on Portland Pirates history and establishing himself as one of the all-time great AHL goaltenders.

Portland, ME – Portland hockey lore has long established a tradition of producing players who have gone on to have long and fruitful careers in professional hockey. The halls of the Cumberland County Civic Center have seen the likes of Andrew Brunette, Jason Allison, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf make their impact felt, well before they were stars in the NHL.

One thing is for certain. We can always say that we knew them before they were big, but deep down, Portland fans have always had an affinity for those who played between the pipes, whether it was Bill Ranford, Pete Peeters, Ron Tugnutt, Jim Carey, Byron Dafoe or even Olie the Goalie.

At times, they dazzled us leaving us memorized with their ability and talent. It has undoubtedly left an impression that will live forever among local hockey faithful.

Martin Brochu was one of those players.

Despite the fact, his NHL career was only seven games. He was somebody who Portland hockey fans rallied around as quickly became a fan favorite, often putting an underachieving team on his shoulders.

On March 24, 1996, the Portland Pirates were in the middle of a heated playoff battle when Brochu, a wide eye kid from Anjou, PQ, didn’t know he would see so much action in only his second start for the Pirates after being acquired in a trade from Montreal.

The Pirates dropped the game, 6-5, in overtime, but it was the play of Brochu that stole all the headlines.

Facing 67 shots, it was a game that could have had an ugly outcome on the scoreboard, but Brochu stood on his head making 61 saves on the night, setting a franchise record for saves in a game that still stands today.

The Pirates held a 5-4 lead over the Rangers with less than minute left at Broome County Veteran Memorial Arena in Binghamton, NY, but Binghamton’s Jeff Nielsen’s notched his second goal of the night off a tough angle from below the right faceoff circle with just 50 seconds left in the game.

At 1:47 into overtime, the Rangers got a power play when former Pirate Justin Duberman was given a major penalty for hitting Shawn Reid with a high-stick.

Only 16 seconds later, Jeff Nielsen sealed the victory on an ugly rebound goal.

To the Pirates credit, they overcame a two-goal deficit twice in the game to the lead in the third period, but a common theme in Pirates history — they couldn’t hold the lead.

Brochu, now 35, would spend five years with the Pirates (1995-2000), during which time he set numerous record that still stand today including wins (32), consecutive wins (9) and consecutive games played (26). He’s still the franchise leader for wins (79), ties (18), saves (4,585) and the Pirates’ career playoff leader in appearances (25), lowest goals-against average (2.40) and highest save percentage (.925) for one playoff year.

The AHL named him the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Award winner in 2000 as the league’s top goalie and he also was named the recipient of the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s MVP, still only Pirate to win the award. He was inducted into the Pirates Hall of Fame in 2003.

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