PORTLAND – For the second home game in a row, the Portland Pirates put on a bad show for their fans Saturday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The Pirates never quite got it together while playing in front of a season-high crowd of 6,944 as the Connecticut Whale skated to a 4-1 win, their second in Portland in five days.
With team captain Alexandre Bolduc now in the NHL playing for the parent Phoenix Coyotes, it looks as though nobody has stepped forward to fill the void for the Pirates.
“We need to have better leadership from the guys that have been around, from the guys who wear letters that are leaders on this team,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “In a game like this, we haven’t had someone inspire us when we’ve needed it. Our play was not inspired. It was flat. It’s disappointing because we had a good crowd tonight, and we would have liked to have played better for them.”
This game was closer than the last time the Whale were in town to play the Atlantic Division leaders. Connecticut posted a 6-1 win Tuesday night.
“The first period, I thought we were good and then it turned into a game of momentum,” Edwards said. “When they scored, we didn’t react well at all. Our bench was quiet. We needed to have a better reaction there and find a way to get going, and we didn’t.”
The Pirates opened the scoring nine minutes into the game when Ethan Werek turned Brett Hextall’s long pass from the left side of the zone into his seventh goal of the season. The goal came on a three-on-two break, with Werek converting a one-timer from the right circle.
With just over six minutes left in the first, Kris Newberry finished a rush down the left side during the Whale’s first power-play chance.
Connecticut took a 2-1 lead less than two minutes into the second period when Chad Kolarik scored his team-high 16th goal, 41 seconds into a four-on-three power play.
“In the past, our team has responded well against adversity,” Edwards said. “Whatever it is, we have found a way to get out of it. Tonight we just laid down, I was disappointed.”
It got worse.
During a Portland power play less than five minutes into the third period, Shayne Weibe skated in among four Pirates and flipped a loose puck into an open net for his first goal. It was the league-high 10th short-handed goal allowed by the Pirates.
Kelsey Tessier completed the scoring by beating rookie goalie Mark Visentin on a breakaway with eight minutes left.
NOTES: Right wing Nick Johnson, who appeared in 77 games with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild last season, started his first game with the Pirates on a line with Jordan Szwarz and Chris Conner. … Defenseman Boris Valabik, who signed with the Pirates last week, still hasn’t arrived from the Czech Republic. … The Pirates sent rookie left wing Scott Arnold back to the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: