PORTLAND – Rookie goalie Mark Visentin had a career game three months into his first AHL season to lead the Portland Pirates to a 2-1 win against the Providence Bruins Wednesday night.
The 20-year-old Visentin made 48 saves, the most by any Portland goalie this season, as the Pirates won for their ninth time in 10 games before a crowd of 3,686 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Jordan Szwarz converted a great feed from Rob Klinkhammer during a two-on-one break for his third goal of the season with less than four minutes left to snap a 1-1 tie and lift Portland to a third consecutive win.
Visentin, who has been alternating with veteran Chad Johnson, has allowed just three goals in his last four starts.
“This rotation that we’re on has really helped Mark,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “It’s helped his focus. He knows when he’s going to play.”
Visentin said he’s really strived to become more consistent during his first pro season.
“The big thing for me is taking practice every day as a chance to get better,” he said. “Ever since the beginning of the season, I’ve tried to go out there and work as hard as I can and stay focused.”
Visentin recalled handling more shots than he did Wednesday night only once during his four years of junior hockey with the Niagara IceDogs in the Ontario Hockey League.
“I think the most (shots) I’ve ever seen was 52,” he said. “That was three years ago, and I let in two, so it was nice to let in just one tonight.”
The Bruins, who have beaten the Pirates twice this season, outshot the Pirates during every period.
“There was not a lot of room out there,” Edwards said. “I thought their team played really well, a really good road game and they probably deserved a better fate, but that happens sometimes. Believe me, we’ve been on the other end of those, too. We’ll take our points and move on.”
The score was tied 1-1 after two periods.
Providence rookie center Ryan Spooner converted a turnover into his seventh goal nine minutes into the game to open the scoring. After intercepting a blind drop pass from Portland’s Alexandre Bolduc in his defensive zone, Spooner raced to the other end and slipped a backhander past Visentin while fending off two defensemen.
Andy Miele made it 1-1 with his fifth goal in seven games four minutes into the second period by finishing a breakout with a shot from the slot. It was his 10th goal of the season.
The win enabled the Pirates to open a three-point lead over second-place Worcester in the Atlantic Division.
“I don’t think it was a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination,” Edwards said, “but this time of year any time you can bank points you bank points and learn from it and move on.”
NOTES: Undisclosed injuries kept defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Maxim Goncharov out of the Portland lineup for the third consecutive game. Center Trent Whitfield, who played 6 1/2 seasons for the Pirates, made his first appearance in the Providence lineup since suffering an upper-body injury Oct. 26.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: