Finally we can say Portland Pirates hockey is back! For many of us this off-season has been treacherous what with the NHL lockout and all, to finally have some hockey to watch is a sigh of relief. Last night the Portland Pirates took on the Adirondak Phantoms in Glenn Falls for their season opener.
The Pirates came out strong as they had to kill off a penalty early on and kept the game even matched through the first half of the first period. It wouldn't be until 10:15 that Ethan Werek would come right out of the penalty box after serving a two-minute minor and net his first of the season. The Pirates had a chance to advance their lead to two int he first when Phantoms' Syvret went to the box on a trip, but were unable to convert. At 1:15 remaining in the first period the Phantoms tied the game up as Zolnierczyk threw a shot at the net that deflected off of the defense and past Johnson. This goal lit a spark under the Pirates as they came off the face-off ad Ekman-Larsson put the Pirates ahead once more with just 50 seconds remaining in the first. Just as it seemed the period would end and the Pirates would head to the locker room with the lead Roe was able to tie the game once more to end the period.
Heading into the second the general understanding among fans and players alike was the penalties. The Pirates needed to maintain focus on the game and reduce the amount of mistakes they were making on the ice. Just 1:15 seconds into the second Andy Miele netted his first of the season putting Portland back on top. Through the first eight minutes of play each team had numerous opportunities, including a couple lucky bounces out for the Pirates as Adirondak bounced them off of the posts. It wouldn't be until 6 minutes remaining when Courturier would capitalize on a 5 on 3 situation and tie the game. A few minutes later the Pirates would be provided with the same opportunity as Bourdon went to the box for delay of game(closing his hand on the puck, a new AHL rule) and Syvret would go for another delay of game. With just over a minute remaining in the period the Pirates applied the pressure but were unable to convert, ending the period tied at three a piece and Adirondak holding a 28-27 advantage in shots on goal.
Once again the main focus was to stay out of the box and put the puck in the net. Through the first forty they had done a great job putting themselves ahead, it was a matter of retaining the lead. The Pirates began the third with a thirty second 5-on-3 advantage that put them 0-4 on the power play for the night just two minutes into the period. As the strength evened once more, the intensity level rose. As Szwarz went to the box for a delay of game penalty for chipping the puck out of play, the Phantoms capitalized, McGinn providing them their first lead of the night. The Pirates applied pressure as the clock winded down, but the Phantoms held on. They managed to net two more goals, including the empty netter giving them a home opening victory and sending the Pirates home empty handed.
Granted it was the first game of the season and they're still working out the kinks,we can hope they find a way to stay out of the box and on the ice in the games to come. The next game is at the Lewiston Collissee against the Worcester Sharks, affiliate of the San Jose Sharks. Tickets are still available and you can get them here .
Photo Courtesy of Portland Press Herald:Shawn Patrick Ouellette