LEWISTON – The Portland Pirates made a triumphant return to a sold-out Androscoggin Bank Colisee Friday night, dominating the last two periods while rolling to a 7-4 win against the Worcester Sharks.
It was the first win of the season for the Pirates, who were making their first appearance at the Lewiston arena since the 2009-10 season.
“It means a lot for Lewiston,” said Tim LaFrance, owner of East Coast Sign and Design in Lewiston. “As you can see with the crowd here, we’ve been striving for some good hockey.”
Lewiston hockey fans haven’t had a local team to cheer for since the Lewiston Maineacs folded in 2011 after eight seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“It’s good hockey, and it’s nice to see a full house here in Lewiston,” former Lewiston mayor Larry Gilbert said. Attendance was 3,737.
“I was a season-ticket holder the first year when (the Pirates) won the Calder Cup, and I remember coming out (of the Cumberland County Civic Center) and people all over downtown Portland blowing horns, and it was awesome. You know, it’s nice to see Portlanders come to Lewiston for some good hockey.”
It was the first of six games the Pirates will play in Lewiston this season. They face the Binghamton Senators next Saturday at the Colisee following three road games.
Chris Conner and Oliver Ekman-Larsson each scored two goals as the Pirates evened their record at 1-1.
“It was a pretty exciting game, back and forth for a lot of it,” said veteran center Alexandre Bolduc, who had a goal and an assist. “I hope (the fans) enjoyed it. We heard how loud they were, and we fed off it.”
Portland opened an early 2-0 lead, but the score was tied 3-3 after one period. The Pirates moved into the lead for good when Conner scored his second goal on a breakaway 2:31 into the second period.
Seven minutes later, Bolduc notched his first of the season for a 5-3 lead.
“We got off to a good start, and we let them back into the game,” Bolduc said, “but that’s stuff we can work on.”
Worcester’s Tim Kennedy, who spent the 2008-09 season with the Pirates, converted a turnover into his first goal of the season to reduce the Portland lead to 5-4 with seven minutes left in the second period.
But Ekman-Larsson scored his third goal of the season about four minutes later to restore the two-goal lead.
Brett Hextall and Andy Miele also scored for the Pirates.
“You’ve got to find a way to win games, and, at the end of the day a win is a win,” said Conner, a veteran of five NHL seasons who also had two assists. “We get what we can from it, and look to be better tomorrow,
Sebastian Stalberg, Sena Acotaste and Yannu Gourde each had a goal for Worcester.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: