MANCHESTER, N.H. – There are losses, then there are embarrassing losses.
The Portland Pirates sustained one of the latter Saturday, losing 6-1 to the Manchester Monarchs before 5,014 at Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Pirates, who have lost three in a row, stumbled out of the gate and never did find their footing.
“You’ve got to be mad,” said forward Derek Whitmore. “It’s a staple of our hockey team to compete and work hard every night. We know mistakes are going to happen, but the effort that’s what really stinks. We’ve got some guys going and some guys aren’t.”
The Pirates suffered through their worst period of the season and paid for it by falling into a 4-0 deficit.
Corey Elkins took a short feed from Patrick Mullen and beat starting goalie David Leggio at 2:36.
Oscar Moller made it 2-0 with the first of his two goals, and Brayden Shenn and Justin Azevedo scored to up Manchester’s lead to 4-0.
“They popped one in,” said Pirates captain Matt Ellis, “and we tightened up a little bit.
“One of our trademarks is that we’ve been a composed bunch, making confident plays, but we came unraveled.
“They’re a good hockey club over there.”
In fact, the Pirates’ recent struggles have allowed Manchester to advance past them into first place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division.
“We really got outplayed tonight,” said Portland Coach Kevin Dineen. “We played a hungry team, they’ve had success and that’s what happened.”
Leggio, who had little chance on most of the goals, was replaced by Jhonas Enroth at the beginning of the second period.
Nick Crawford pulled Portland within 4-1, scoring his second goal of the season at 1:44 of the second period. Mark Mancari and Ellis drew the assists.
But Moller scored again less than three minutes later, further squelching the Pirates’ comeback hopes.
Portland will have a chance to salvage the weekend during today’s game against the Bruins at Providence.
“We just need better focus,” said Ellis, “right from the drop of the puck I hope the guys take a look at the last couple of games to see what went wrong. We need to get back to trusting each other.
“There’s only one way to go and that’s jump back in with both feet.”
NOTES: The Pirates brought up forwards Ethan Cox and Igor Gongalsky from the ECHL.