Maine Hockey Journal

Lessio lifts Pirates back to .500

(PHOTO: Rosina Vacchiano)

(PHOTO: Rosina Vacchiano)

After ten games into the season, the Portland Pirates are back to .500 thanks in part to Lucas Lessio’s overtime goal, which lifted the Pirates past the Albany Devils, 2-1, in front of 2,456 at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY.

It was the first time the Pirates had gone to overtime since the AHL adopted new rules to reduce the number of games ending via a shootout.

The overtime period was extended to seven minutes with both team’s skating four-on-four till the first whistle after three minutes of play, at which time both teams will be reduced to three-on-three. If the game remains tied following overtime, it will go to a three-player shootout.

At 2:58 of the overtime period, Brendan Shinnimin dug the puck away from Corbin McPherson along the boards and found Lucas Lessio along in the slot for a one-timer that beat Kinkaid, giving Portland a 2-1 victory.

The Pirates (5-5-0) have now won three straight games and four of their last five since starting the season 1-4-0. It was also their second straight win on the road, since starting the season with four consecutive road losses.

“It’s early and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think what we’ve established is a work ethic that we know has to be there every night,” said Pirates’ GM/Coach Ray Edwards. “I think our group knows if we work that we’ll give ourselves a chance to win every night and if we don’t it’s not good enough. They understand now what is acceptable and not acceptable.”

Portland, trailing by a goal, tied the game 1-1 with a power play goal by Dylan Reese at 10:57 of the second period. Reese skated into the into the left circle and snapped a shot through a screen set up by Alexandre Bolduc, beating Devils’ goalie Keith Kinkaid for his first goal of the season.

Special teams were once again solid for Portland, not allowing a power play goal, while going 1-for-4 with the man advantage, but Edwards was not happy with the number of penalties taken over the last several games.

“The biggest issue for me is the penalties,” Edwards said. “We have to manage it. We’ve got to do a better job. We’re working, but we’re hooking, slashing and we need to eliminate those types of things from our game because it’s going to come back and bite us at some point.”

The Devils opened the scoring early into the first period.

One-time Pirate Joe Whitney – appeared in one game for the Pirates during the 2010-’11 season – took a feed from Paul Thompson and snapped a wrist shot from the slot over the glove of Pirates’ goalie Mike McKenna just 1:28 into the period.

McKenna came up with several big stops in the game, including one in overtime to finish with 31 saves on the night, earning his first win since opening night in Portland.

With just over eight minutes left in the first period, an issue developed with the ice behind the Devils’ net that resulted in both team’s being sent to their respective locker rooms while the arena attempted to repair the ice.

Ice crews were eventually able to fix the ice, which led to nearly a 35 minute delay. The first period resumed with 8:38 left on the clock, followed a brief two-minute intermission and the start of the second period.

“We didn’t start great tonight, so the little ice issue was good for us,” Edwards said. “It allowed us to regroup and kind of get our legs under us. After that, I thought we were a good team. It was a nice way to recover and a nice way to end the week getting back to .500, win a couple games and feeling good about ourselves.”

NOTES: Tobias Rieder was recalled by the Coyotes earlier in the day and made his NHL debut where he scored his first NHL goal. The Coyotes snapped a three-game losing streak by winning their first road game of the season.

“He’s a very deserving player,” Edwards said of the recall. “He had a really good year last year, and had a little bit of a slow start for the first couple games but has been a real hot player for us the last five or six games.”

Francis Wathier returned to the lineup after missing three games due to an upper-body injury suffered in his first game with the Pirates last Saturday against Syracuse. Wathier, who signed a PTO with Portland two weeks ago, was hit from behind by Crunch defenseman Dalton Smith. Smith was handed a five-minute major and game misconduct, but the league took no further supplementary action…. Paul Bissonnette, who also signed a PTO with Portland, was not in the lineup due to an illness…. Jordan Szwarz was back home in Toronto due to death of his grandfather.

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