PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates recovered from a lousy start Tuesday night to win their second consecutive game for the first time this season at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Andy Miele and Jordan Szwarz scored third-period goals to lift the Pirates to a 4-2 victory against the Adirondack Phantoms, but the turning point came much earlier.
Less than nine minutes into the game, Portland Coach Ray Edwards pulled goalie Curtis McElhinney in favor of backup Marc Cheverie, who joined the team earlier in the day from the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators, after the Phantoms took a 2-0 lead.
“I thought both goals were goals that he would like to have back and I didn’t like the way our bench was reacting,” Edwards said. “I felt I just had to make the change to change momentum in the game and get us back on track.”
Ben Holmstrom and Jason Akeson scored while the Phantoms skated with a two-man advantage.
“They scored a couple of power-play goals early and I think Ray made the change to slow the game down a little bit and let us regroup,” said defenseman Tyler Eckford. “The message was pretty clear — get the puck deep and work hard, and good things will happen.”
With less than four minutes left in the first period, Marc-Antoine Pouliot made it 2-1 when his shot from the slot trickled in off Adirondack goalie Mike Leighton’s pads for his third goal of the season.
On Oct. 16, Leighton, who played briefly for the Pirates five years ago before spending the next three seasons in the NHL, stopped 35 shots in the Phantoms’ 3-0 win against Portland. But Edwards credited assistant coach Mike Minard with coming up with a plan.
“He watched a lot of tape and he talked to our players about (Leighton),” Edwards said. “We got a lot of second-chance opportunities by going to the net hard. We felt we weren’t going to score a lot on the first opportunity on him so we had to keep going to the net.”
Eckford made it 2-2 when he scored his first goal of the season 12 minutes into the second period on a shot from just below the left dot on the Pirates’ third power play of the game.
The score stayed tied until Miele scored less than six minutes into the third period, putting in a close-in shot.
With seven minutes left, Szwarz slid the puck in for his first pro goal.
Cheverie stopped all 17 shots he saw.
“The team played awesome in front of me,” he said. “It definitely made it easier for me to come in and transition into the game. We’re were so good defensively and put so much pressure on them it definitely made my job easier.”
Cheverie was added to the roster after Justin Pogge suffered a lower-body injury in the final moments of the 4-2 win Saturday night against Providence.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org