Speedy Martin Gendron, a key player during the early days of the Portland Pirates, will become the 14th member of the AHL team’s hall of fame Saturday night.

Gendron spent just two seasons with the Pirates, but he was with the team long enough to make a lasting impression.

“He was a solid good teammate,” said Kent Hulst, a 2002 hall of fame inductee who spent eight seasons with Portland. “Obviously, one of his strengths was putting the puck in the net. He had great hand-eye coordination.”

A right wing, Gendron skated on a line with Hulst at left wing and Andrew Brunette, another Pirate hall of famer, at center.

“It was good to have a sniper out on the wing,” said Hulst, now director of player development for the Portland Junior Pirates.

In 120 games with the Pirates, Gendron, who joined the Pirates at the start of 1994-95 season, racked up 74 goals and 61 assists to average more than one point per game. He still holds or shares team records for career hat tricks (5), power-play goals in a season (15) and most goals in a game (4).

“It’s a great feeling to be recognized by the first team you started in pro hockey with,” said Gendron, who now works as a real estate broker in his native Quebec. “It’s something I can tell my grandchildren about.”

In 1996, Gendron helped the Pirates come to within one victory of winning their second Calder Cup.

“I remembered during the playoffs just walking down the street and people waved at me, and that’s always nice,” Gendron said. “What I remembered is the atmosphere was great. We always had very good crowds.”

The 5-foot-9, 176-pound Gendron, who turned 35 last month, played just 30 games in the NHL with the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks.

But he played 430 games during six seasons in the AHL and the old International Hockey League, and he played 276 games during seven more seasons in pro leagues in Canada, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

“I retired (as a player) four years ago,” he said. “My kids were starting school, so I decided to return from Europe.”

Gendron’s wife, Michelle, and daughter, Allyssa, and son, Alexis, will attend the induction.

“I’m looking forward to this,” he said. “I’m bringing my two kids, and they’re excited about it.”

THE PIRATES WILL finish the regular season with a rush.

On Friday, Portland starts a season-ending stretch in which it will play 11 games in 16 days.

Six of those games will be at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

“The schedule isn’t nice coming down the stretch, but it would be a whole different ball game if it was a stretch like that on the road,” veteran right wing Mark Parrish said.

Depending how the Worcester Sharks do against the Providence Bruins at the DCU Center on Friday night, the Pirates could clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday night.

The Pirates hold a three-point lead over the Manchester Monarchs in the race for the top spot in the AHL’s Atlantic Division.

“Obviously, we’ve worked hard to get where we are in the standings, but we’re not satisfied with where we are,” Parrish said. “We want to keep driving and keep getting better and have our best going into the playoffs.”

PLAY IN THE Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff series between the ninth-seeded Moncton Wildcats and the No. 8 Lewiston Maineiacs starts Friday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

Lewiston will host the first two games of the best-of-seven series, one of the QMJHL’s eight first-round matchups.

During the regular season, the teams split two games.

On Nov. 26, the Maineiacs skated to a 3-2 win at Lewiston. Less than a week later, the Wildcats won 4-3 at Moncton.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]