Portland Pirates Coach Ray Edwards expects as many as 24 players will be on the ice Monday morning when the AHL team opens its training camp at the OA Performance Center in Saco.
During the past week, the NHL parent Phoenix Coyotes assigned 21 players to the Pirates from their preseason training in Glendale, Ariz.. Another group of players from the Gwinnett Gladiators, the Coyotes’ ECHL affiliate, also are expected to attend the AHL team’s preseason camp.
“We’ve got eight to 10 guys who are either on American (Hockey) League deals in Gwinnett or they’re invitees from other places,” Edwards said.
As of Sunday night, 31 players remained in the Coyotes’ training camp. The NHL team must reduce its roster to 23 players by Oct. 3, when it opens the season at home against the New York Rangers.
“At some point, Phoenix will trim its roster,” Edwards said. “It’s just a matter of at what point and which players.”
So far, 13 players who suited up last season for the Pirates have been reassigned to the team: forwards Darian Dziurzynski, Brett Hextall, Philip Lane, Mark Louis, Jordan Martinook, Brendan Shinnimin and Ethan Werek, defensemen Mathieu Brodeur, Brandon Gormley and James Melindy, and goalies Louis Domingue, Mike Lee and Mark Visentin.
The Pirates are scheduled to play an exhibition game Wednesday against the University of New Brunswick in the MHG Ice Centre, part of the OA complex.
“The first game against UNB is a perfect chance to see some of these young players who have been brought in from Gwinnett or other (ECHL) teams,” Edwards said.
“They’re free agents looking for an opportunity. Even if we can’t use them right off, what happens is we’re able to put them on a depth chart. If we need players down the road, we can access that depth.”
This weekend, the Pirates are scheduled to play two preseason games against the Manchester Monarchs.
The Pirates are scheduled to open the season Oct. 12 against the Providence Bruins at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Because of ongoing renovation work at the Cumberland County Civic Center, the Pirates are scheduled to play their first 13 home games of the regular season at the Lewiston arena.
The MHG Ice Centre will serve as the Pirates’ practice facility for the entire season.
“We will be will be training there every day,” Edwards said. “The Pirates’ ownership has built a coaches’ office, a new locker room, a lounge and a medical room. It’s going to be a nice setup for our guys.”
Edwards said the ice surface at the facility has been widened to accommodate the training needs of the AHL team.
“It’s a huge investment, but we needed to have a large enough ice surface to practice every day,” he said.
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