LEWISTON — The Portland Pirates overcame a dreadfully slow start to stave off elimination from playoff contention Saturday night.
Andy Miele scored a goal and had three assists to lead the Pirates to a 7-5 win against the Manchester Monarchs, one of the AHL’s best teams, before 2,589 fans at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
The win, coupled with the Wilkes-Barre Penguins’ 2-1 victory against Norfolk, kept the Pirates’ flagging playoff hopes alive at least until Tuesday, when they travel to Worcester. The Admirals, who don’t play again until Friday, need to earn just one more standings point to eliminate the Pirates from playoff contention.
“We’re proud people,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “Our paychecks still clear every two weeks, you know. We have a lot of pride. We’re playing for jobs for next year and trying to earn a job with Phoenix this year.”
The Monarchs, the first team in the AHL’s Eastern Conference to qualify for a playoff berth, took a 2-0 lead when Jordan Weal and Brian O’Neal scored less than six minutes into the game.
“The first period wasn’t good,” Edwards said. “We had a decent second half of the first period to get the game tied up, but it wasn’t a great start.”
Veteran forward Tim Kennedy scored his second and third goals of the season to forge a 2-2 tie. The first goal came on the Pirates’ first shot on goal more than 12 minutes into the game. With just over a minute left, Kennedy struck again 12 seconds into Portland’s second power play of the game.
Less than three minutes into the second period, Miele scored his team-high 26th goal on the Pirates’ third power play to snap the tie. Randy Jones and Jordan Martinook added goals to send them into a 5-2 lead with less than four minutes left in the period.
The Monarchs got a short-handed goal from Andy Andreoff before the second period ended.
Less than 10 minutes into the third period, Martinook scored his 14th goal of the season and the Pirates’ fourth power-play goal of the game to make it 6-3.
Sean Blackman and O’Neal, who leads the Monarchs with 25 goals, scored to make it interesting, but Brandon Yip put the game away by depositing his 11th goal into an empty net with 11 seconds left.
NOTES: NESN broadcaster Tom Caron became the 18th member of the Portland Pirates Hall of Fame Saturday night.
Caron, who grew up in Lewiston, served as play-by-play announcer during 1993-94 when the Pirates wrapped up their first season in Portland by winning the Calder Cup.
“I’m honored, humbled and (I was) shocked when I got the call,” he said during a pregame interview.
Caron said his first game he called for the Pirates was a preseason contest played at the Central Maine Civic Center, the old name for the Colisee.
“This is where I learned I couldn’t skate,” he joked. “It is the place where I learned I would have to do something else to stay connected with the game I love.”
Caron currently is NESN’s studio announcer for all Boston Red Sox telecasts. He also handles play-by-play for the regional network’s telecasts of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs and Hockey East games.
Caron also writes a weekly sports column for the Portland Press Herald.