LEWISTON — The Portland Pirates finished off their busiest stretch of the season Saturday night with a convincing victory against the Worcester Sharks.
Andy Miele recorded his first career hat trick and assisted on two goals as the Pirates skated to a 5-1 win before 1,860 people at the Colisee.
“This was our best game in a long time,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “We finally played 60 minutes. We haven’t done that in a while.”
The Pirates finished off a stretch of six games in nine days. During that span they went 3-1-0-2, garnering eight of a possible 12 points to pull three points ahead of the last-place Sharks in the AHL’s Atlantic Division.
“I’ve been pretty hard on our guys for the last little while as far as being better and finding a way to do more in games,” Edwards said. “Even though we’ve gotten points in some games, I still haven’t felt we’ve been at our best, so tonight was a better effort.”
Miele, in his third professional season, led the way by turning in a career game.
“It was just one of those nights, you know, where you feel great and every puck was bouncing your way,” Miele said. “It was (my) first hat trick in I don’t know how long. I never had one in college so it’s my first one in a while.”
The victory came eight days after the Sharks cruised to an 8-2 victory against the Pirates.
“We were happy to get the win tonight, especially on how they beat up on us the last time we played them,” said Miele.
Despite being outshot by a 12-4 margin, the Pirates held a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period, thanks to an outstanding play by Miele.
With less than five minutes left in the period, Miele, the 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner as the nation’s top college player, stole the puck inside the offensive zone while helping the Pirates kill off Worcester’s second power play of the game. He wheeled through the left circle and lifted the puck over goalie Harri Sateri’s glove for his first short-handed goal of the season.
The Pirates extended their lead to 3-0 during the more evenly played second period.
Less than eight minutes into the period, veteran right wing Brandon Yip slipped the puck inside the right post for his third goal of the season during a scrum in front of the Worcester net.
With less than four minutes left, Miele converted a quick cross-ice pass from Chris Brown into his ninth goal, finishing off a fast break with a shot from the inside the right circle.
Rylan Schwartz spoiled goalie Mark Visentin’s bid for his first shutout of the season when he notched his third goal less than two minutes into the third period. Visentin made 30 saves to run his record to 8-8-2.
Miele completed his hat trick less than five minutes into the third period, finishing off a breakout down the left side with his team-high 10th goal on the Pirates’ second power play.
With less than 10 minutes left, Jordan Martinook put in a shot from the slot for his fourth goal on another power play to complete the scoring.