PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates played like they meant it Friday night in their quest for a Calder Cup playoff spot.

The Pirates more than matched the Hershey Bears’ offense to roll to a 6-4 victory at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

“I’m really proud of our group,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “We needed to find two points and I really thought we played well. While we gave up four (goals), we really didn’t give up a lot.”

Lately the Pirates are more concerned about winning each game and not where those victories ultimately may lead them.

“The way they’re fighting and staying alive here, they’re showing a lot of character,” Edwards said.
Edwards was at a loss to explain how the American Hockey League tiebreaker system works.

“I’ve got to find out about regulation wins,” he said. “I don’t know, I’ve got to get a handle on this thing. I’ll get up to speed.”

The AHL uses the total number of regulation and overtime wins by each team as its primary way of breaking ties.

In the Eastern Conference, the Adirondack Phantoms hold the edge among the four teams fighting for the last two playoff berths in the Eastern Conference with a total of 33 wins in regulation or overtime, but the Phantoms can’t catch the Pirates in the standings. The Pirates and the Manchester Monarchs each have 31 such wins. The Syracuse Crunch have 28 wins in regulation or overtime.

While the Pirates have one game left, the Phantoms, the Monarchs and the Crunch each has two games remaining.

After Friday night’s games, Portland is in seventh place with 81 points, followed by Syracuse (80), Manchester (79) and Adirondack (76).

Portland now needs a win Sunday at Providence, but also needs Syracuse or Manchester to lose one of its two remaining games.

Brett Sterling scored two power-play goals to lead the Pirates past the Bears.

Hershey opened the scoring less than nine minutes into the game when Kyle Greentree popped in a rebound for his 11th goal during a Portland power play. It was the league-high 15th short-handed goal allowed by the Pirates.

About three minutes later, Brett MacLean made it 1-1 when he tipped in defenseman Tyler Eckford’s blast from center point for his 25th goal.

The Pirates held a 4-3 lead after a see-saw second period.

Portland opened a 3-1 lead when Matt Watkins swept a deflected puck into the right side for his 11th goal in the opening minute and Sterling scored his 29th about five minutes later. David Civitarese and Mike Carman of Hershey then sandwiched scores around a goal by Pirates rookie Andy Miele during a span of 2 minutes, 34 seconds.

Sterling put in a rebound less than three minutes into the third period to make it 5-3.

The Bears pulled back to within a goal when Ryan Potulny scored on a power play, but Kenndal McArdle scored less than two minutes later to wrap it up for the Pirates.

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

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Twitter: PaulBetitPPH