ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland — After squandering an early two-goal lead, the Portland Pirates responded in a big way and then held on to claim a wild 5-4 victory over the St. John’s IceCaps on Monday night.
Tied 2-2 in the second period, Portland capitalized on penalties to Ryan Schnell and Ben Chiarot that gave them a two-man advantage by scoring twice to rebuild the edge. Mark Louis scored an insurance goal that gave the Pirates a 5-2 lead entering the third period.
But it was still a win – and a better result than Sunday’s lackluster 3-1 loss.
Chalk up at least part of Monday’s result to going back to the basics.
“Offensively, we kept things pretty simple,” said Coach Ray Edwards, whose team plays the IceCaps again Tuesday night.
Portland started out well with Brett Hextall and Tobias Rieder scoring near the midway point of the first period, sending IceCaps goalie Jussi Olkinuora to the bench 10:08 into the game.
Backup goalie Eddie Pasquale – the first star of Sunday’s game – appeared to give the IceCaps a jolt of energy as J.C. Lipon scored with 1:33 left in the opening period and then Will O’Neill tied the game with just under six minutes played in the second period.
But then those consecutive minor penalties left the IceCaps two men down, and with the Pirates enjoying a five-on-three advantage for 1:20, they capitalized.
First Lucas Lessio tapped home a perfect pass from Daine Todd to end Schnell’s penalty. With Chiarot still in the box, Mathieu Brisebois fired a slap shot just inside the post 1:01 later and again the Pirates were up by two goals.
“We shot the puck,” said Edwards. “The first power-play goal was just a simple entry with a drive. The second power-play goal was a shot through traffic. Hextall’s goal to start the game was a simple wraparound.”
The Pirates kept pressing and were rewarded for their efforts as Louis picked the corner on Pasquale with 3:47 remaining in the second to put the game seemingly out of reach.
Only not quite, as John Albert and Kael Mouillierat energized the crowd with a pair of goals in the first five minutes of the third period, but that’s as close as the IceCaps would come.
Despite the win and the five-goal outburst, Edwards still wasn’t delighted.
“I thought we were better in last night’s (Sunday) game,” Edwards said. “We gave up probably twice as many chances tonight. Our structure was off. I thought we were loose with the puck. I’m glad we won but at the end of the day, our game last night was much better.”
A couple of pucks from Monday’s game were kept as souvenirs as Louis and Brisebois scored their first pro goals.
“For Mark Louis, we moved him to forward so that was huge for him,” Edwards said. “Brisebois scored his first pro goal on the power play and it was the game-winning goal. It’s great to see those guys contribute for us.”