PORTLAND – Goalie Peter Mannino got the chance he wanted Sunday, and didn’t waste the opportunity in helping the Portland Pirates pull out an important win.
Mannino, who joined the club 10 days ago, made 45 saves in his first start with the Pirates in a 5-4 win against the Providence Bruins before a crowd of 5,127 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Mannino came to the Pirates as part of the deal that sent Brock Trotter to the St. John’s Ice Caps.
“I wanted to step up and show the guys what I can do and play my part as a goalie,” Mannino said. “I’m here just to prove myself again and maybe (start) a relationship with (NHL parent) Phoenix and anybody else, if possible. I want to stick with this level, and I want to ultimately get to the next level like everybody else on the team.”
Mannino’s 45 saves were the most by a Portland goalie this season.
“We thought we got outplayed pretty badly, but we had a goaltender tonight who won a game for us, which was really nice,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “Friday and Saturday we played really well and didn’t get a result, and tonight we didn’t play as well and we got points. It’s funny how that works.”
The victory, which followed losses to Worcester and Manchester in which the Pirates took a total of 84 shots on goal, kept Portland in the thick of the race for the eighth and final playoff berth in the AHL’s Eastern Conference.
With 15 games left, Portland trails No. 8 Albany by two points.
The Bruins, who are three points out of a playoff spot, outshot the Pirates, 49-17.
The Pirates held a 3-1 lead after one period.
Portland rookie Andy Miele scored his second goal in his last 28 games when he put a shot from out front past goalie Michael Hutchinson less than nine minutes into the game.
A little more than a minute later, Trent Whitfield, who spent parts of eight seasons with the Pirates when they were affiliated with the Washington Capitals, put in a shot from the right circle off the near post for a power-play goal.
Two minutes later, Portland regained the lead when rookie Jordan Szwarz turned Ashton Rome’s centering pass from behind the net into his seventh goal.
Ryan Dunbar made it 3-1 when he scored his 14th goal 13 seconds into the Pirates’ first power play.
Mannino stopped 33 of 34 shots during the first two periods, but the Bruins’ Carter Camper and Craig Cunningham scored goals during the first five minutes of the third period to forge a 3-3 tie.
The Pirates regained the lead when Evan Bloodoff stuck a rebound inside the right post with less than 15 minutes left for his sixth goal. It was his third goal in as many games.
With less than five minutes left, Rome, who also scored three goals during the weekend, finished off a rush with his sixth goal.
Defenseman Colby Cohen completed the scoring by putting in his third goal on a shot from the right point with 15.4 seconds left after Providence pulled its goalie for an extra skater.
“Every game is huge, every point is huge,” Rome said. “We’re right there. We’ve just got to get the points when we can get them.”
NOTES: Brett MacLean, Portland’s leading scorer, was a healthy scratch A lower-body injury kept defenseman Nathan Oystrick out of the Portland lineup for the second full game Injuries kept Whitfield out of the lineup during Providence’s previous three visits to the Civic Center.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: