The two newest Portland Pirates are expected to help in very different ways.
Center Patrick O’Sullivan is a dynamic offensive player, and Mike Hoffman, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound right wing, is in Portland to make sure skilled players such as O’Sullivan have the freedom to do what they do best.
“He keeps the flies off,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said of Hoffman’s role. “He keeps things honest.”
O’Sullivan and Hoffman joined the Pirates before their three-game weekend swing to upstate New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire, helping their new team collect 5 of 6 points.
There were no fights in any of those games.
“That could mean I’m doing my job,” said Hoffman, who spent 11/2 seasons with Portland when the team was affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks.
“Teams need to know (Hoffman) is here, and he’s willing and able to play the role he needs to play,” Edwards said. “Our skilled players need to know that they’re protected.”
O’Sullivan, who spent the first two months of the season with the parent Phoenix Coyotes, posted three assists during his first three games with the Pirates.
“We don’t know how long he’s going to be down (here),” Edwards said. “While he’s here, he’s going to help us win games.”
During the past six seasons, O’Sullivan has played for five NHL teams. As an AHL rookie in 2005-06, he scored 47 goals for the Houston Aeros. In 328 NHL games, O’Sullivan has 58 goals and 102 assists.
“This is not the league I want to play in, but if I am going to play down here I want to win, and this team here looks like it’s got some potential,” he said.
In 17 games with the Coyotes this season, O’Sullivan had two goals and had an assist.
“I try to look at this as an opportunity for me to play a lot,” he said. “I just want to win games and just try to get the most out of the situation I am in.”
Since last playing for the Pirates during the 2007-08 season, Hoffman has played for three AHL teams, two ECHL teams and for Northern Ireland’s Belfast Giants in the Elite Ice Hockey League. In 2009, he was limited to seven AHL games after sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury while playing for Hartford.
“Here, I just want to get comfortable playing (in the AHL) again and prove myself,” said Hoffman, 31. “I feel good again and I want to give it my best.”
JUST WHEN the Pirates get the knack for success on the road, they return to play their next four games at the Cumberland County Civic Center, where they have won five straight.
“Everybody worries about the first game back from a road trip, but it’s not like we’ve been gone,” Edwards said. “We’ve been back here practicing, and don’t expect there to be a letdown.”
Following tonight’s game against the Manchester Monarchs, the Pirates host the St. John’s IceCaps, the AHL Atlantic Division leader, for two games this weekend.
“We’re playing games against teams we’re chasing, so we have to take advantage of the next three games,” Edwards said.
AFTER LAST WEEKEND’S trip, the Pirates signed forward Ashton Rome to an AHL contract.
Rome, brother of former Portland Pirates defenseman Aaron Rome, was originally signed to a 25-game professional tryout contract.
“It’s hard to be (on) a PTO, every day fighting for your life,” Edwards said. “Because he had a real good weekend, we had to make a decision and we decided to keep him.”
In his first 25 games with the Pirates, Rome had three goals and an assist.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at firstname.lastname@example.org