Sunday, March 9, 2014
PORTLAND — After failing to score a goal in his first four AHL games, Portland Pirates rookie center Tyler Ennis was frustrated.
''I was stressed out,'' he said. ''I couldn't get any goals, and I wasn't having fun.''
Ennis had a ball Friday night.
Ennis scored the first three goals of his professional career to lead the Pirates to a 6-3 win against the Hartford Wolf Pack before 3,285 fans at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
''Me and the coach had a good talk after practice one day, and he said. 'Just do what you do and have fun,' '' said Ennis, a first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 2008 draft. ''That's what I did today. I just came to the rink with a good attitude. I worked hard and had fun.''
His linemates also had some fun.
Jeff Cowan, a veteran of eight NHL seasons, scored his first two goals of the season, and second-year pro Nathan Gerbe added a goal and three assists.
''Tonight was a great team effort,'' Cowan said. ''We've played two great games at home now, and we've got to bring that on the road. That's the key.''
Portland's first two victories of the season have been at the Civic Center. But the Pirates' next five games are on the road, where they are winless in three games.
''You can't make the playoffs without having success on the road and, obviously, we've haven't done that,'' Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. ''We're hoping this is a confidence booster, and we come out with lots of energy (tonight at Manchester).''
Ennis scored his first goal less than four minutes into the game, finishing off a two-on-one break with Gerbe. Defenseman Mike Kostka set up the goal by sending a long pass out of the defensive zone to Gerbe, who was streaking down the right side.
The Wolf Pack did a better job of limiting Portland's scoring chances in the second period. But it didn't matter. The Pirates took only six shots, but three went in.
Gerbe put in a shot from the middle of the right circle just 10 seconds into the period for his third goal of the season.
The Pirates then got their second and third power-play goals of the season, as Cowan and Ennis popped rebounds into the left side to make it 4-0.
In between those goals, Portland goalie Jhonas Enroth stopped Dale Weise on a breakaway. Enroth finished with 30 saves.
Ennis completed his hat trick during a power play in the third period when his shot from the slot trickled in off goalie Chad Johnson's pads for a 5-1 lead.
Paul Crowder, Bobby Sanguinetti and Andres Ambuhl scored for Hartford in the final 11 minutes.
NOTES: Veteran center Cody McCormick returned to the Portland lineup after a two-game absence.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: