Thursday, April 17, 2014
PORTLAND — Before Trent Whitfield's name was announced as the number one star Saturday night, he was unsure how the crowd of 4,095 at the Cumberland County Civic Center would react.
Would they boo or cheer?
After all, he had just scored two goals to help the Providence Bruins to a hard-fought 4-3 victory against the Portland Pirates, completing a sweep of their two-game series.
But Portland hockey fans have long memories. They remember Whitfield, a hard-working center who spent parts of seven seasons here when the Pirates were affiliated with Washington.
When he returned to the ice, there we no boos, just cheers.
''This is a special place for me,'' said Whitfield, who spent the last four seasons in the St. Louis organization. ''My family has a lot of good feelings here. We've met a lot nice people and the fans always treated me well here.''
Whitfield, in his 12th pro season, became the 76th player to accumulate at least 500 points in the AHL.
''You always want to come in and put on a good show,'' he said. ''Fortunately, I was able to get a couple in tonight, and it was nice.''
The Bruins beat the Pirates for the second consecutive night when Brad Marchand scored a power-play goal 8 minutes into the third period to snap a 3-3 tie.
It was the first loss in regulation for the Pirates since Veterans Day, snapping an 11-game point streak.
Goalie Patrick Lalime, making the second of his two starts in a conditioning assignment from the parent Buffalo Sabres, made 22 saves. He stopped 43 shots Friday night in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Bruins at Lewiston.
''A game like (Friday) night takes a lot out of (a goalie),'' Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen said. ''If it's regular circumstances, he probably would have played (Friday) night and then would have played (today).
''Given our circumstances, we couldn't do that. Our job was to get him in game shape and get him ready (to play in the NHL).
The Bruins led 3-2 after the first period.
Whitfield put in a rebound, then scored his sixth of the season after intercepting Lalime's clearing pass, and the Bruins had an early 2-0 lead.
The Pirates pulled into a tie when Cody McCormick scored from the top of the slot at 5:46 and Derek Whitmore lifted in a shot from the slot at 13:34.
Less than three minutes later, Jordan Knackstedt scored from point-blank range to move the Bruins back in front.
The Pirates tied it again on Kyle Wanvig's power-play goal 10 minutes into the second.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: