PORTLAND – Luke Adam made his first start in a regular- season game for the Portland Pirates a memorable one
Adam, who played three games for the Pirates in last season’s playoffs, had two goals and two assists to help the Pirates slip past the Manchester Monarchs for a season-opening 6-5 victory Saturday night before 4,631 fans at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“Luke is going to be a good player for us this year,” said Kevin Dineen, in his sixth season as the Pirates’ coach. “I think that was a snapshot of his potential. He’s still young and he’s got some growing to do, but he brought it out there and put it on display tonight.”
Adam, a 20-year-old center from St. John’s, Newfoundland, scored his first two AHL goals less than four minutes apart in the third period to send Portland into a 5-4 lead.
Both goals came off shots from the slot after centering passes from Mark Mancari, who had three assists.
“Obviously, Luke had a real solid game, but I give a lot of credit to Mark Mancari,” Dineen said. “He made great passes on both of those goals.”
Mancari, who led the Pirates in scoring the past two seasons, scored into an empty net with 31 seconds left to make it 6-4.
Manchester left wing David Meckler scored the final goal with one-tenth of a second remaining.
“It wasn’t a thing of beauty but it was entertaining game for the fans,” Dineen said. “Games like this are hard on coaches on both sides.”
The score was tied or the lead changed hands eight times.
“It give us the basis of a lot of things to work on, a lot of good things to take out of it as well,” Dineen said.
The score was 2-2 after the first period.
Derek Whitmore of the Pirates poked in a rebound into the left side to open the scoring five minutes into the game. Five minutes later, Richard Clune slid a rebound into the right side to tie it.
Portland regained the lead when Matt Ellis, a veteran of six NHL seasons, whirled and put a backhander from the left side past goalie Jeff Zatkoff for a short-handed goal after taking the puck from defenseman Alex Martinez.
With four minutes left in the period, Dwight King knocked in a rebound on a power play to tie it.
The Monarchs held a 4-3 lead after the second period.
Whitmore finished off a rush down the left side 1:30 into the period with his second goal to snap the 2-2 tie.
Moments later, defenseman David Meckler put in a shot from the middle of the right circle to tie it.
Less than 10 minutes into the period, Corey Elkins scored a short-handed goal to send Manchester back into the lead.
NOTES: Forward Felix Schutz, who spent the past two seasons with the Pirates, will return home to Germany on Monday after he was released by the Monarchs. Prior to Saturday night’s game, rookie forwards Brian Roloff and Maxime Legault were added to the Portland roster. Knee injuries kept veteran defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani and rookie forward Jacob Lagace out of the Portland lineup.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]