February 25, 2010

No relief in sight for road misery

JIM HODGES

— By

Special to the Press Herald

NORFOLK, Va. — It was as if goalie Jhonas Enroth didn't have a friend in town.

With his defense providing little support, Enroth surrendered two first-period goals to Brandon Bochenski, and the Norfolk Admirals went on to a 4-2 win over the Portland Pirates at Scope Arena Friday night.

The first goal was something of a revelation for the Admirals, because it was only their second power-play goal of the season in seven games. But it came against a team that has given up 14 power-play goals, worst in the American Hockey League.

''What happened on that (power-play goal) was that our guys put in a lot of effort, but (Norfolk) kept the puck in,'' Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen said. ''We didn't clear the puck. We had the puck on our stick, and it didn't get out a couple of times.

''When you're that tired, a whole lot of holes start opening up. They exposed us when we were tired.''

Portland's defense was exposed on Bochenski's second goal, and again on Paul Sczcechura's goal, assisted by Bochenski, that made it 3-0 in the second period.

''It was a sloppy goal by us,'' Dineen said of Sczcechura's goal. ''When you give guys in this league that kind of time, they're going to make plays on you, and that's obviously what happened.''

It's nothing he hasn't already seen this season.

''A large part of our issues this year has been our team defense,'' Dineen said. ''It's always easy to first point out your goalies, then your defensemen. It's certainly team deficiencies that are causing our problems right now.''

Those problems have yielded six losses in as many road games, a particularly disturbing trend early in the season when a team's habits often are formed.

''We've had a tough time on the road, and we've had some tough starts,'' Dineen said. ''Both of those things bit us in the tail tonight.

''You have a hard time coming back from being down 2-0 only five minutes into the game. I think we settled down to a certain extent, but it's a heckuva hole to have to dig yourselves out of on a nightly basis.''

Norfolk extended its lead to 4-0 on a goal by Ryan Craig 7:59 into the second period.

The Pirates answered with goals by Paul Byron and Tyler Ennis later in the second. Ennis' goal came on a particularly clever play, in which he was behind the goal and lofted the puck over the net, off Norfolk's Adam Hall and past goalie Dustin Tokarski.

But that was it for the Pirates' offense, which managed only 16 shots, few of which really threatened Tokarski.

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