PORTLAND – The Portland Pirates took the ice for the first time this season Friday morning with a skeleton crew.
Ten of the 12 players assigned Wednesday by the NHL parent Buffalo Sabres participated in the 90-minute workout at the Portland Ice Arena.
The Pirates are scheduled to hold their first official practice at 6 p.m. today at the Ice Arena.
Portland will play its only exhibition Tuesday night against the Manchester Monarchs at Nashua, N.H., then open the regular season Oct. 9 against the Monarchs at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“It’s not a lot of bodies but it was a worthy day,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said.
Veteran defenseman Tim Conboy and rookie forward Corey Tropp were in transit and unavailable for Friday’s practice. Both are due in camp today.
Most of the players who came from Buffalo spent Thursday traveling to Maine.
“My feeling is (the) guys have taken a couple of days off, but there was lot of travel involved, so what we’ve done is tried to put together practices that aren’t physically taxing,” Dineen said. “We’re working on our skill set, getting our feet going and breaking in all new equipment.”
Dineen was impressed with the effort.
“There weren’t many guys out there to go through these drills, but I like the way they kept the tempo high and they took a lot of pride in the skill drills,” he said. “Nobody is getting cheated of ice time, that’s for sure.”
Most of the players reported Sept. 11 to Buffalo’s rookie camp.
“We’ve been pushing it pretty hard for the last couple of weeks, a few exhibition games and a lot of intrasquad scrimmages,” said Colin Stuart, a veteran forward in his first season with the Pirates. “As far as conditioning and being ready, we’re about as good as it gets.”
Forwards Felix Schutz, Travis Turnbull and Derek Whitmore were the only players at the workout who spent all of last season with the Pirates.
The other recent Sabres assignees at the practice included forwards Jacob Lagace, Maxime Legault, Dennis McCauley and Brian Roloff, and rookie defensemen Alex Biega and Nick Crawford.
The Portland players were supplemented by Rob Ricci, a forward entering his second season with the Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL, and Alex Petizian, a former St. Lawrence University goalie entering his rookie season with the ECHL’s Anchorage Aces.
During the workout, Mike Fellows, manager of Play It Again Sports on Marginal Way in Portland, manned one of the goals.
A converted forward from Shapleigh, Fellows is a goaltender for teams in Portland-area men’s hockey leagues.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]