WORCESTER, Mass. — On paper, the Portland Pirates have a young team.
On the ice, the Pirates are capable of playing like veterans.
That was the case Sunday as they edged the Worcester Sharks 4-3, with 21-year-old Tobias Rieder and 22-year-old Chris Brown scoring two goals each.
Brown’s second goal, at 11:27 of the third period, was the winner.
“I counted today 10 or 11 21- and 22-year-olds,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “It’s a young group. It’s young in the sense of age, but a lot of these guys have played. We only have four or five rookies.
“Our second- and third-year guys, even though they’re young, have AHL experience. Using youth as an excuse isn’t there for us. These guys are young, but they’ve played in the league so they need to step up and find a way to get better.”
Brown’s second goal couldn’t have been executed any better.
Brown, Tim Kennedy and Andy Miele broke out of their zone on a three-on-two. Kennedy fed Brown on the left wing, and he ripped a shot past goalie Harri Sateri to snap a 3-3 tie.
“It starts with a good breakout pass, but it also starts with (Kyle Hagel) driving the middle and pushing the ‘D’ back,” Brown said. “It was a perfect pass from Kennedy. I just let it go, and you kind of pray whenever you take those one-timers.
“Hopefully, you hit the net.”
Brown also tied the game at 8:01 of the third after Worcester took the lead on James Livingston’s goal at 3:52. After settling a pass from Lucas Lessio, Brown skated across the crease and slid the puck under the pads of Sateri (19 saves).
Portland capitalized on an early Worcester turnover to grab a 1-0 lead. Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty tried to skate the puck out of his end but lost control, and it went right to Rieder, who unloaded a slap shot that clanged in off the crossbar at 3:55.
Worcester countered with a power-play goal at 12:00 when Adam Comrie drilled home a slap shot from the left circle after a pass from Sena Acolatse.
Portland carried a 2-1 lead into intermission after Rieder scored his second goal. Kennedy, who had the puck in the right corner, passed to Rieder in the circle, and Rieder beat Sateri on a one timer, at 16:19.
Portland’s lead lasted until 6:58 of the second, when Nick Petrecki beat Mark Visentin (30 saves) with a slapper from the high slot.
Rieder, a rookie from Germany, now has four goals in just three games. He scored twice in Portland’s first game but sustained a broken foot that kept him out of the lineup for almost a month.
“Toby is a first-year player, but he’s got a lot of veteran play in him,” Edwards said. “He makes veteran plays. He doesn’t crack under pressure. He’s always in the right spot. There’s a lot of detail to his game.
“He has a really quick release. He’s hard on the puck and is an intelligent player. We’re still getting to know him as a player because we haven’t had him in many games. But adding him to the lineup gives you more skill.”