PORTLAND – The Portland Pirates lost an opportunity to make a good first impression Saturday night.
The Manchester Monarchs rolled to a 5-1 win as the new AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes played their first regular season home game before 5,411 fans at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“It’s too bad for the fans,” Portland Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “It’s the first time they see us, and we were awful.”
The Coyotes became the NHL parent of the Pirates in June after the Buffalo Sabres ended their three-year affiliation with the AHL franchise and returned its top minor-league team to Rochester, N.Y.
Previously, the Pirates, in their 19th season of operation, also were affiliated with the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure what (that) game was,” Edwards said. “We weren’t good in any facet. (Manchester) came in our rink and they beat us in just about every aspect of the game. Give them a lot of credit, but I’m disappointed in our showing. I thought we would have more than that.”
Last Saturday night, the Pirates opened the season on the road, skating to a 4-2 win against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena.
Over the next seven days, the Pirates will play four games, including two more games against the Monarchs. The team travels to Rhode Island today to play the Providence Bruins.
“The great thing in this league is you get to play tomorrow because, gosh, you wouldn’t want to sit on that one all week,” Edwards said.
The Monarchs’ lopsided win came 24 hours after they skated to a 7-1 win at Providence. David Meckler and Andrei Loktionov scored even-strength goals 46 seconds apart to stake the them to an early 2-0 lead.
Meckler scored his third goal of the season when his shot from the left side of the slot went in off the far post 15 minutes into the game. Loktionov scored his first on a blast from the right point after Marc-Andre Cliche won a faceoff.
“We got stuck in our zone quite a bit,” said Dean Arsene, the Pirates’ captain.
“When you’re in your own zone, you start to have little breakdowns. We’re not strong enough yet. I think we need to learn how to play within our system and keep calm.”
The Monarchs, playing their fourth game of the season, took a 3-0 lead six minutes into the second period when defenseman Jake Muzzin’s shot from the left point went in off a deflection beyond the grasp of Portland goalie Curtis McElhinney.
That goal came two minutes after goalie Martin Jones stopped Portland rookie Andy Miele on a breakaway moments after the end of a Portland power play.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: