After an absence of 12 days, the Portland Pirates returned to their home rink only to see a two-goal lead slip through their fingers.
Jeremy Langlois turned a third-period hat trick to give the Worcester Sharks a 3-2 victory over the Pirates Wednesday night before a crowd announced as 1,844 at the Cross Insurance Arena.
“That one stings,” said Pirates Coach Ray Edwards. “That’s a tough one.”
The victory was the eighth in a row for Worcester. The Pirates had taken a 2-0 lead into the third period on the strength of a goal and an assist each from Henrik Samuelsson and Jordan Martinook.
That’s when Langlois, a rookie who was a senior on the Quinnipiac University team that reached the NCAA championship game two years ago, took over.
His first goal came on the rebound of his shot that was initially blocked by Pirates defenseman Andrew Campbell. Five minutes later, Langlois struck again when the puck came loose in front of the Portland goal after a Pirates defenseman fell down and lost control while skating behind the net.
The winner came with just under two minutes remaining. Langlois took a pass from linemate Evan Trupp, faked an outside move and found room in the slot to get off a shot inside the left post for his team-high 14th goal of the season.
“It took a while,” Langlois said, “but once we started playing a little more in their end stuff started happening.”
Trupp assisted on all three goals. Left wing Bryan Lerg assisted on the second two.
“We call them the Shrub Line,” said Worcester Coach Roy Sommer, who played two seasons for the Maine Mariners (’83-84, ’84-85). “They’re not real big but we start them every game and they’ve been rolling.”
The Pirates killed off four power plays but came up empty on four chances of their own, including a 4-minute stretch in the second period during which they failed to put a shot on goal.
“We’re doing some good things, but you’ve got to finish,” Edwards said. “That’s the reality. We have a hard time finishing.”
Worcester held the Pirates to two shots in the second period and finished with an overall advantage of 28-18. Louis Domingue made 25 saves for the Pirates and J.P. Anderson made 16 for the Sharks.
“We probably felt a little too comfortable,” Edwards said of Portland’s 2-0 lead. “They got a little life and we weren’t able to handle it. We should be able to handle it better, though, with the leadership in that room. We should be able to manage that game better.”
The Pirates play Friday night at home against Bridgeport.
NOTES: Goaltender Mike McKenna, who has been in net for 32 games this season and leads the AHL in minutes played with 1,835, was promoted to Arizona on Wednesday. The Coyotes don’t play again until Tuesday because of the All-Star break. McKenna, 31, already has 21 NHL games under his belt with Tampa Bay, New Jersey and Columbus.
In addition to calling up McKenna, the Coyotes reassigned four players to the Pirates: defensemen Brandon Gormley and Philip Samuelsson, forward Lucas Lessio and goalie Mike Lee.
Gormley saw action in 15 games with Arizona, scoring two goals and assisting on a third. Lessio had a goal and an assist in nine games with the Coyotes and Samuelsson appeared in four games without registering a point. All three played Wednesday night.
Lee’s only action this season has been five games (1-3-1) with Gwinnett of the East Coast League.
When Worcester’s regular goaltender, Troy Grosenick, fell ill, Anderson got the start and backup duties fell to veteran forward Jimmy Bonneau – a member of the 2008-09 Portland Pirates, who wore Grosenick’s No. 1 – in case of emergency.