LEWISTON – Pirates Coach Ray Edwards didn’t sound discouraged Monday by his team’s losses in two exhibition games against the Manchester Monarchs over the weekend.
The Monarchs, who are owned by the Los Angeles Kings, won 5-2 Saturday afternoon at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco and completed the sweep with a 3-0 win Sunday afternoon at Sullivan Arena at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
“When you look at the lineups you put in both games, you had a handful of guys who are going to be here in each game,” Edwards said. “You didn’t have close to your full lineup, so you really can’t read anything into that.”
But the two exhibition games did reveal two major areas of concern — defense and special teams.
“We’ve got a really young defense,” Edwards said. “This is a good league, and we’re going to have to do a good job of coaching those defensemen up.”
Currently, Brandon Gormley and Mathieu Brodeur are the only defensemen on the roster who played regularly last season. Mark Louis also played defense last season, but he is being converted to a forward.
“We’ve got a young back end, and we’re going to have coach them and make them better,” Edwards said.
Despite numerous opportunities, the Pirates didn’t score on the power play in the two games.
“We didn’t get a whole lot done on the power play, but we haven’t worked on it,” Edwards said. “On Sunday, we had a couple of five-on-threes and we had a couple of five-on-threes on Saturday. If we scored in those situations early, it could have changed the game.”
The Pirates open the regular season Oct. 9 against the Monarchs at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“We’ve got a lot of other elements in our game to input, so there is still a lot of work to be done,” Edwards said.
The Pirates had planned to play 13 home games at the Colisee while the $34 million renovation of the Cumberland County Civic Center was completed.
Last Thursday, Pirates managing owner Brian Petrovek announced the team will play its entire 38-game home schedule in Lewiston because of a stalemate in lease negotiations with the Cumberland County Civic Center’s trustees.
Edwards was at the Colisee Monday afternoon with his staff to assemble a list of improvements that needed to be made to the team’s area in the 55-year-old arena.
“We’re up here because we’ve got to get this locker room, weight room, equipment room and medical room up to a standard,” he said.
Last season, the Pirates played six games at the Colisee.
“For six games it’s one thing, but for 38 games it’s got to be better,” Edwards said.
Without specifying what needed to be done, Edwards said the team owners seem willing to make the improvements.
“The Pirates’ ownership has been great,” he said. “They’ve said, ‘Whatever you need done, we’ll do.”
The Pirates reduced the number of players in their training camp to 28.
Rookie centers Philipe Halley and Josh Currie, defenseman Justin Weller and former Northeastern University goalie Chris Rawlings were assigned to the Gwinnett Gladiators, the ECHL affiliate of NHL parent Phoenix Coyotes.
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