LEWISTON — The usual reaction upon scoring a goal is to raise one’s arms in triumph.
When Andy Miele notched his team-leading 25th goal Friday night, he raised his eyes instead, looking for the scoreboard clock to see if any hope for an improbable comeback remained.
With only 3 seconds left, it did not.
For the second time in three nights, the Portland Pirates dug themselves too deep a hole and saw their rally fall just short. They lost 6-5 to the Providence Bruins before a spirited crowd of 3,199 on the team’s second annual Purple Night, to raise cancer awareness and funds for research.
Two nights after rallying from a 3-0 first period deficit to come within a goal of Worcester before losing 5-3, the Pirates fell behind 5-1 before the first period was 15 minutes old.
“It drains the energy out of everyone,” Miele said. “But we were great on the bench. Everyone stayed positive.”
Neither starting goalie saw the finish. Pirates starter Louis Domingue, pulled after the first period Wednesday, departed after the fourth Providence goal Friday in favor of Chris Rawlings, who finished with 21 saves. A minute after the change, Rob Flick scored to make it 5-1.
“I’m not saying they were bad goals, but you just can’t give up five,” said Pirates Coach Ray Edwards. It’s not just on (Domingue) and (Rawlings). We were light on the puck.”
On the ensuing faceoff, Portland’s Sam Klassen squared off against Providence’s Blake Parlett. Whether it was the fisticuffs that sent a charge through the crowd or the Pirates simply having nothing left to lose, momentum swung their way.
Brendan Shinnimin converted a feed from Ethan Werek late in the first to make it 5-2. The Pirates dominated the second period, with Rawlings shutting out Providence while Tobias Rieder (from Miele) and Brandon Yip (from Cade Fairchild and Tim Kennedy) made it 5-4 and sent Bruins goalie Malcolm Subban to the showers.
Subban’s replacement, Niklas Svedberg, snuffed out two good opportunities for the Pirates early in the third. He stopped a short-handed bid from Werek and followed with a sprawling glove save at even strength on a shot by Fairchild.
A few minutes later, Ben Sexton, in only his second professional game since leaving Clarkson University, made it 6-4. It remained that way until the final seconds, with Rawlings pulled for an extra skater, when Miele finally broke through.
“Once I realized there wasn’t enough time left,” Miele said, “I was excited that Shimbo had to donate another $25.”
The reference is to Shinnimin, who had pledged $10 for every Pirates shot and $25 for each goal. Team ownership, a corporate sponsor and 19 teammates also made donations, for a total of $4,725.
The Pirates also wore purple-trimmed jerseys, to be autographed by their wearer and auctioned on eBay, with proceeds earmarked for the Central Maine Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“I like how we came back,” Edwards said, “but at the end of the day, it’s just frustrating.”
NOTES: The Pirates will be eliminated from playoff contention with their next loss or if Norfolk as much as reaches overtime in any of its remaining games. … The AHL suspended Worcester defenseman Rob Davison three games for his illegal check to the head of Pirates forward Phil Lane on Wednesday. Lane’s teammate, Mark Louis, who sought out Davison and exacted a few uppercuts worth of revenge, was not suspended.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: