LEWISTON — The Portland Pirates played their final game of the season at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Wednesday night.
It was a bittersweet farewell for the Pirates as the Albany Devils clinched a playoff berth with a 3-2 win in a shootout to hand the Pirates their ninth consecutive loss before fewer than 1,000 people.
It was the last game the Pirates will play in Lewiston for at least five seasons. The Pirates’ new lease agreement prohibits them from playing home games anywhere but the Cumberland County Civic Center for the next five years.
“It’s important to thank everyone here and the fans, and the folks here in the building,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “It’s important to thank all the folks who came out and supported us over the year. I just wish we could have been better for them, but we just weren’t.”
The Pirates, in danger of finishing last among the league’s 30 teams for the first time in the 20-year history of the franchise, set a team record for fewest wins on home ice during a season. The Pirates, who won just 10 of 37 games at the Colisee, surpassed the previous all-time low of 13 wins at the Cumberland County Civic Center during the 1998-99 season.
The Pirates, with 61 points, have avoided sinking to new lows in points (55) and longest winless streak (13).
Because of a schedule conflict with the Shrine Circus, the Pirates will play their final game of the season Saturday night at the MHG Centre, their training facility in Saco.
“We’ll play our last one in Saco, and we’ll call it a year,” Edwards said. “It’s probably fitting we play our last game at the practice facility.”
Rookie Craig Carey, a Hobey Baker Award finalist from St. Lawrence University, opened the scoring 23 seconds into the second period by deflecting Tim Kennedy’s shot from the right point past goalie Keith Kinkaid for his first goal in his 12th game with the Pirates.
Fewer than six minutes later, Reid Boucher made it 1-1 when he put in a shot from just above the right hash mark for his 22nd goal of the season.
With less than three minutes left in the second period, the Devils took the lead when defenseman Dan Kelly scored his third goal on a shot from the top of the slot.
Rookie Lucas Lessio tied the score about eight minutes into the third period by flipping in a shot from the slot for his team-high 29th goal.
In the shootout, Jordan Szwarz scored the Pirates’ goal, but Stefan Matteau and Mike Sislo, Albany’s last two shooters, scored goals to propel the Devils to the win.
NOTES: Goalie Mark Visentin and defensemen Brandon Gormley and Connor Murphy returned to the Pirates’ lineup after being reassigned by NHL parent Phoenix Coyotes. Gormley and Murphy both earned assists on Lessio’s goal … Defenseman Tyler Gaudet, recently signed to a three-year contract by the Coyotes, made his professional debut … The Devils’ lineup included former Lewiston Maineiac Eric Gelinas, who spent most of the NHL season with parent New Jersey.