PORTLAND – Graham Mink scored some big goals when he played for the Portland Pirates eight seasons ago.
Mink, who spent four seasons with Portland when the AHL team was affiliated with the Washington Capitals, is now scoring some big goals for the Providence Bruins
Wednesday night, Mink — who joined the Bruins in mid-January on a professional tryout contract — scored his eighth goal with less than two minutes left in the second period to lift red-hot Providence to a 3-2 win over Portland before a crowd of 3,846 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
With the victory, the Bruins, who are 20-4-0-2 since Jan. 25, solidified their hold on first place in the Atlantic Division, moving 10 points ahead of the second-place Pirates.
“I knew when I came in here we had a really good team, and it was just a matter of getting a few bounces, and guys started scoring and we really started playing well,” Mink said. “It’s the time of year you want to come together and go on a little streak and try to cement yourself into a good seeding for the playoffs.”
Providence won its 10-game season series with the Pirates, 6-3-0-1.
“We’re doing the right things,” said Portland Pirates Coach Ray Edwards, whose team has lost three straight. “We’re not getting the result which is not acceptable, but we’re playing hard. We’re playing together. We’re playing disciplined hockey. We’re doing some good things so I think eventually it will turn. That’s usually how it works, so we’ve just got to be patient now and let it turn.”
With 10 games left in the regular season, the Pirates hold a two-point lead over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the fifth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Providence built a 2-0 lead on Ryan Spooner’s 13th goal and Craig Cunningham’s 23rd goal.
The Pirates tied the score as rookie Jordan Martinook and Ethan Werek scored 9 seconds apart.
Martinook, who has eight goals this season, scored his fifth against the Bruins during a scrum in front of the Providence net 12 minutes into the second period. After the ensuing faceoff, Werek broke in to score his 10th goal.
Mink scored the winner when his shot from behind the right side of the net went in off the back of goalie Mike Lee’s left leg.
“It was nice to get one tonight,” Mink said.
“You know, I got a little bit of the bounce there, but I’ll take it.”
NOTES: Injuries kept forwards Jordan Szwarz (upper body) and Brett Hextall (lower body) out of the Portland lineup. Portland defenseman Boris Valabik was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game. Portland center Andy Miele returned after serving a one-game suspension for elbowing a St. John’s player in the head Saturday night. … Former Pirates defenseman and assistant coach Eric Weinrich, who grew up in Gardiner, was at the game scouting for the Sabres.
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at email@example.com