February 25, 2010

Another win, and confidence grows

PAUL BETIT

— By

click image to enlarge

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: The Portland Pirates vs. Hartford Wolf Pack at the Cumberland Civic Center in Portland on February 16, 2010. Goalie Jhonas Enroth of the Portland Pirates blocks the shot of Hartford's Dale Weise as Marc-Andre Gragnani of the Portland Pirates defends.

Tim Greenway

click image to enlarge

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: The Portland Pirates vs. Hartford Wolf Pack at the Cumberland Civic Center in Portland on February 16, 2010. Kyle Wanvig, left, of the Portland Pirates receives congratulations from T.J. Brennan, middle, and Jeff Cowan after scoring the sixth goal giving the Pirates a 6-1 lead.

Tim Greenway

Additional Photos Below

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Hockey certainly has become fun for the Portland Pirates.

It's always fun when you win, and the Pirates have been doing a lot of that lately.

With Kyle Wanvig leading the way, the Pirates defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack 7-4 Monday before a crowd of 4,433 at the Cumberland County Civic Center, extending the AHL's longest win streak to nine games.

''We know what we're doing,'' said Wanvig, a veteran forward signed by the Pirates a month after the start of the season. ''We're starting games a lot better than we did earlier in the season, and that has made a complete difference for us. Getting leads is always a lot better then playing behind or playing even all game.''

The victory moved third-place Portland to within three points of Worcester, the Atlantic Division leader.

''You've got to like the way they're going,'' Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said, referring to his players. ''They're playing hard. They're a confident bunch right now.''

With his father watching him play while visiting from Calgary, Alberta, Wanvig registered two so-called Gordie Howe hat tricks, named for the legendary Detroit Red Wings forward and consisting of a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. Wanvig finished with two of each.

''Wow, that is a memorable night,'' Dineen said. ''That is hard to do. I think you got to let the Hockey News know about it. That one's a keeper.''

Wanvig, who has a team-high seven-game points streak, had an assist in the first period to help the Pirates take a 3-0 lead. He had two goals and an assist in the second period when the Pirates increased the advantage to 7-2.

Late in the first period, Wanvig, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound forward, fought with Justin Soryal, a 6-2, 210-pound left wing. Then Wanvig took on Brodie Dupont, another 210-pound forward, on the opening faceoff of the third period.

''When you're not a scorer and you get the opportunity to get two (goals), two (assists) and two (fights), you've got to take it,'' said Wanvig, who has 11 goals in 43 games for Pirates. ''That's why I fought the first shift in the third period.

''(Dineen) even asked me, 'you sure you want to go?' and I said 'I've got to go. I'll never have this chance again.'''

The Pirates scored on three of their four shots against starting goalie Chad Johnson, who was replaced by Miika Wilkman less six minutes into the game.

Rookie Travis Turnbull tipped in Tyler Ennis' centering pass from the left circle during a three-on-two break 53 seconds into the game for his fifth goal.

At 3:42, Felix Schutz jammed his 10th goal inside the right post after Wanvig intercepted the puck when Johnson tried to send it around the end boards.

Cody McCormick got his 11th goal at 5:33, scoring into an open net after Johnson, who had moved from the front of the goal to cut off a long dump-in pass from Ennis, tried to clear the puck through the crease.

''Obviously, getting out to a 3-0 lead in the first five minutes is a big deal,'' Dineen said. ''I liked the tone of our game for the most part, until it got into the third period.''

During the second period, Ennis and Jeff Cowan each scored to help the Pirates increase the lead to five goals.

Nigel Williams and Kenny Roche each scored second-period goals for Hartford, and Dane Byers and Soryal added third-period goals.

NOTES: Left wing Donald Brashear played his second game since he was assigned to the Wolf Pack by the New York Rangers. A veteran of 15 NHL seasons, he last played in the AHL in 1995 with the Fredericton Canadiens. A groin injury kept 2009 AHL rookie of the year Nathan Gerbe out of the Portland lineup for the 10th consecutive game. Injuries kept former Pirates P.A. Parenteau and Mike Hoffman for Hartford.

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

pbetit@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: The Portland Pirates vs. Hartford Wolf Pack at the Cumberland Civic Center in Portland on February 16, 2010. Goalie Jhonas Enroth of the Portland Pirates blocks the shot of Hartford's Dale Weise as Marc-Andre Gragnani of the Portland Pirates defends.

Tim Greenway

click image to enlarge

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: The Portland Pirates vs. Hartford Wolf Pack at the Cumberland Civic Center in Portland on February 16, 2010. Kyle Wanvig, left, of the Portland Pirates receives congratulations from T.J. Brennan, middle, and Jeff Cowan after scoring the sixth goal giving the Pirates a 6-1 lead.

Tim Greenway

click image to enlarge

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: The Portland Pirates vs. Hartford Wolf Pack at the Cumberland Civic Center in Portland on February 16, 2010. Goalie Jhonas Enroth of the Portland Pirates blocks the shot of Hartford's Dale Weise as Marc-Andre Gragnani of the Portland Pirates defends.

Tim Greenway

click image to enlarge

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: The Portland Pirates vs. Hartford Wolf Pack at the Cumberland Civic Center in Portland on February 16, 2010. Kyle Wanvig, left, of the Portland Pirates receives congratulations from T.J. Brennan, middle, and Jeff Cowan after scoring the sixth goal giving the Pirates a 6-1 lead.

Tim Greenway

click image to enlarge

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: The Portland Pirates vs. Hartford Wolf Pack at the Cumberland Civic Center in Portland on February 16, 2010. Goalie Jhonas Enroth of the Portland Pirates blocks the shot of Hartford's Dale Weise as Marc-Andre Gragnani of the Portland Pirates defends.

Tim Greenway

click image to enlarge

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: The Portland Pirates vs. Hartford Wolf Pack at the Cumberland Civic Center in Portland on February 16, 2010. Kyle Wanvig, left, of the Portland Pirates receives congratulations from T.J. Brennan, middle, and Jeff Cowan after scoring the sixth goal giving the Pirates a 6-1 lead.

Tim Greenway



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