PORTLAND – The Portland Pirates made a triumphant return to the Cumberland County Civic Center Friday night.
Rookie forwards Chris Brown and Brendan Shinnimin each had a goal and an assist as the Pirates skated to a 3-0 win against the St. John’s IceCaps before a crowd of more than 6,700.
Because of renovations at the arena, the Pirates played their first two home games at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Friday night’s game was the first in Portland this season.
“It’s nice to be able to come to the rink and skate in your rink and not have to drive anywhere or bus anywhere,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “It felt really good to be home.”
The Pirates looked really comfortable playing in front of the home crowd, as they took advantage of a few breaks to run their record to 4-3-1.
“Right now, we’re in the right spots,” said defenseman Michael Stone, who had two assists. “Tonight, I think we didn’t play our best, but we managed to get three goals and we didn’t give up any. That’s kind of the breaks we’re getting now because we’re working hard and we’re just in the right spots.”
Veteran goalie Chad Johnson stopped 31 shots to shut out the IceCaps for the second time in 10 days. His best work came while the Ice Caps (4-5-1) were skating with a two-man advantage early in the second period.
“That five-on-three tonight was really the turning point in the game, and he made a couple big saves,” Edwards said.
After allowing all the goals in an 8-7 loss to the IceCaps in St. John’s, Newfoundland on Oct. 8, Johnson has allowed two goals in three starts. His two shutouts are two more than the Pirates posted all last season.
Brown opened the scoring eight minutes into the game when he scored his second goal of the season. It came with 21 seconds left on the last of three consecutive Portland power plays.
“If we get out of those three power plays without anything, we don’t have a lot of momentum, so it was key for us to get that goal there,” Edwards said.
Portland increased their lead 12 minutes into the second period when Brett Hextall scored his third goal, putting in a wide-angled shot from the outer rim of the right circle during a two-on-one break.
With about 15 minutes left in the third period, Shinnimin scooted between two defenseman to poke in the rebound of a long shot by Stone for his second goal.
NOTES: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson remained out of the Portland lineup for the second straight game after injuring his left hand during an Oct. 25 game against the Binghamton Senators in Lewiston. Injuries also kept defenseman Maxim Goncharov and right wings Chris Conner and Joel Rechlicz out of the lineup, while rookie left wing Scott Arnold was a healthy scratch. … Former UMaine defenseman Will O’Neill was a healthy scratch for the IceCaps. Former Pirates forward Derek Whitmore also sat out.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: