WORCESTER, Mass. – Portland Pirates Coach Ray Edwards knew what to expect going into Saturday night’s game against the Worcester Sharks.
Whatever Edwards said to his team fell on deaf ears.
Worcester jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead and basically coasted to a 4-1 victory.
“We knew they would be hard,” Edwards said. “They didn’t play well (Friday) and got beat in their own rink (7-2 by Manchester). We talked about it before. We knew what we were going to face.
“We talked about it until we were blue in the face but we didn’t address it. We didn’t show up to start the game. The first period was unacceptable and we’re down 3-0.”
Ironically, the Sharks had lost seven consecutive games on home ice and over their previous 23 games, were averaging a miniscule 2.0 goals.
Yet Worcester almost blew Portland out of the DCU Center in the first period and chased rookie goalie Mike Lee (3 goals on 13 shots) in the process.
Danny Groulx ignited that three-goal outburst when he unloaded a slap shot from just outside the left circle that clanged in off the crossbar at 13:15.
Then, with Portland on a power play, John McCarthy stole the puck in his zone and fed Bracken Kearns, who sailed into the Pirates’ zone on a clean breakaway. Kearns beat Lee at 15:25 for a short-handed goal.
“It wasn’t good,” Edwards said. “It was a matter of not being prepared for the faceoff and not being prepared to make the right decision.
“You have all week off. We’ve had a couple of these now where we’ve had all week off and we show up on the first game of the weekend and don’t play well. I’ve got to change the way we do things during the week in these situations because it’s not working.”
Jimmy Bonneau ended the first-period rout when he beat Lee with a snap shot just inside the left post at 17:24.
Louis Domingue (22 saves), another rookie, replaced Lee in the second period and was impressive early when he robbed Matt Pelech and Bonneau on breakaways.
But the Sharks still increased their lead to 4-0 while each team was skating short-handed when Matt Tennyson snapped home a wrist shot at 16:52.
Portland finally beat Alex Stalock (36 saves) at 4:47 of the third, when Phil Lane corralled a Rob Klinkhammer rebound behind the boards, circled around and whipped the puck inside the left post.
The last thing Edwards was inclined to do was blame his goalies, who were playing in place of the injured Chad Johnson and Mark Visentin.
“I made the goalie change to try to spark the group,” Edwards said. “It had nothing to do with Mike. I thought Louie came in and played well for us.
“We had too many players who didn’t play well tonight.”