March 12, 2010

A bounce-back win


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John Ewing/Staff Photographer... Sunday, January 4, 2009..Pirates vs. Springfield hockey game. Pirates Mathieu Darche(left) and Keith Johnson (center) picked up assists on the goal by Nathan Gerbe (right) in the second period.

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John Ewing/Staff Photographer... Sunday, January 4, 2009..Pirates vs. Springfield hockey game. Pirate goalie Jhonas Enroth blocks a scoring bid by Springfield's #25, Derek Bekar in the first period. Pirate defenseman Mike Weber (#6) moves in to help.

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Staff Writer

It didn't take Nathan Gerbe long to get back into the swing of things.

In his second AHL game since returning from a month's stay in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, Gerbe scored his team-high 15th goal Sunday to spark the Portland Pirates to a 4-1 victory over Springfield before 2,693 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

''We have a very tight-knit group and whoever jumps onto our team during the year feels pretty comfortable with the guys,'' Gerbe said. ''We're a pretty loose group and everyone is pretty close on the team, and that makes it a lot easier.''

The win came less than 24 hours after Norfolk ended the Pirates' streak of six straight home wins with a 3-2 victory.

''We just went out and competed harder,'' Gerbe said. ''The guys played for each other. We played hard. We took care of the puck.''

Gerbe, who led Boston College to the national title last season, scored his first goal in a Portland jersey since Dec. 5 less than a minute into the second period to break a scoreless tie. His shot from the top of the slot came eight seconds after a Portland power play ended.

''(Gerbe) had a lot of jump to his legs, and I think the whole team followed his lead to a certain extent,'' Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said.

''There were areas of the game that were definitely sharper than we've seen in the last month. The players were a little bit tired of leaving things to chance and decided to stick to what works best for us.''

Gerbe's goal was the first of three by the Pirates during the second period.

Former University of Maine forward Keith Johnson, in his third game with the Pirates since getting called up from the Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL, scored his first AHL goal at 8:33 on a shot from the far side of the left circle.

Trent Campbell, also on a call-up from the Stingrays, put in a shot from just above the left hash mark at 17:41. He has three goals and three assists in five games with the Pirates.

''No question, those (ECHL) guys have done a great job for us, and it's very good to see them get rewarded with points on the board,'' Dineen said.

''It's always health or financial situations that play into their fates, but sometimes with your play you can make a big enough statement to demand to stay in the lineup.''

Defenseman Taylor Chorney ended Jhonas Enroth's bid for his third shutout of the season when he put in a shot from the top of the right circle for a power-play goal five minutes into the third period.

Campbell completed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 42 seconds left.

It was the 10th consecutive start for Enroth, who has picked up the slack following a hip injury to Adam Dennis. Enroth made 31 saves to improve to 13-7-2-2.

NOTES: After playing the last five games for the Pirates, left wing Chase Trull returned to the ECHL's Mississippi SeaWolves. Portland defenseman Mike Funk, who has sat out Portland's last 12 games, returned home to continue recuperating from his second concussion of the season.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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Additional Photos

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John Ewing/Staff Photographer... Sunday, January 4, 2009..Pirates vs. Springfield hockey game. Pirate #25, Mark Mancari tries to hold off Springfield's Stephane Goulet's cut toward the goal during the first period.


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