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
Today coach Ray Edwards announced that forward Alexandre Bolduc would serve as the 2012-2013 Captain. Meanwhile Andy Miele,Jordan Szwarz,Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Chris Summers will serve as the assistant captains.
Bolduc, the 6-foot-2 Motreal,Quebec native is entering his second season with the Pirates after splitting his time last season with the Phoenix Coyotes. He appeared in 23 games with the Pirates posting 3 goals and 12 assists for a total of 15 points.
Miele, Szwarz and Summers are all entering their second seasons with the Pirates, each of them getting their fair share of playing time over the course of last season. Miele played in a few games with the Coyotes, but spent 69 games in Portland. He posted incredible numbers with 16 goals and 38 assists, ranking second on the team in goals.
Szwarz is coming off of a very successful rookie campaign in which he starred in 58 games with the Pirates, posting 7 goals and 13 assists. Prior to joining Portland he was the 2012-2011 MVP of the OHL and was selected by Phoenix in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
The Pirates are set to open their season on the road against Adirondak this Saturday, October 13, 2012 for the beginning of the clubs twentieth season.
Ladies and gentlemen, without an NHL season to look forward to (sorry to pour salt into an open wound), there leaves us no choice but to gear up for what could be the most interesting and exciting AHL season of time. You see, with there being no NHL, this leaves the door open for talented players with NHL experience to play for their minor league affiliate. (I know, no brainer right) However, with players that are growing accustomed to playing hockey at an NHL level coming down and playing for the AHL, the atmosphere is bound to change. We can expect some harder hitting and perhaps a few more fancy goals and stick work, the possibilities are really endless. With players like Andy Miele (Phoenix Coyotes) and Jordan Caron (Boston Bruins) being sent down, you can only expect to great things to come.
Luckily for those residing in Maine, we've got our own special event to look forward to this season. Despite the lockout there is still reason to celebrate. You see, this season the Portland Pirates are celebrating their twentieth season. Generally when any team gears up for a season it is exciting, but to be around for twenty years, that is an accomplishment! As if that isn't reason enough to be excited, there are also a few new happenings. For instance, the Pirates are entering this season with a new head coach, Ray Edwards. While this may be his first season behind the Portland bench, he is no stranger to the AHL having spent the past two seasons with the San Antonio Rampage providing them with a 70-56-7-9 record. Prior to that he also coached in the CHL and ECHL for seven seasons. Last season his power play was ranked at the top with the Hershey bears at 20.7% with a home power-play percentage of 25.6%, an AHL best and franchise records.
If that doesn't get you excited for some Pirates hockey, how about the fact that they will be playing six of their games at the Lewiston arena this season? Nothing like a change of venue for a few games to make it interesting. You can even purchase the Baxter Brewing Company 6-Pack deal, giving you discounted prices on tickets for all six games. Not a bad deal.
Granted Pirates hockey isn't going to be the same as watching the Coyotes play, but the fact of the matter remains, not all hockey is lost. It's time we get reconnected with our affiliated farm team. After all, this is where it all begins and players begin to make a name for themselves. Here is where it all begins, only 30 more days people...but who's counting?