March 12, 2010

Pirates can't build momentum

PAUL BETIT

— By

Staff Writer

The up-and-down season of the Portland Pirates took another dip Sunday afternoon.

The lowly Springfield Falcons took advantage of defensive lapses by the Pirates and skated to a 4-1 win before a crowd of 3,678 at the Cumberland County Civic Center, earning a split in the weekend series between the two American Hockey League teams.

Portland's loss came less than 24 hours after the Pirates cruised to a 5-2 win against Springfield, the last-place team in the Atlantic Division.

The Falcons scored their first two goals on odd-man rushes less than two minutes apart late in the first period.

''It's just a lack of thought,'' Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. ''It's what happens on Sunday afternoons when fatigue sets in. Usually, it's your legs that are going. Tonight, it was our brains.''

Tyler Spurgeon finished a three-on-two break with a backhander at 13:14, scoring his third goal of the season while the Falcons were killing a penalty.

At 15:06, Mike Gabinet finished a two-on-one break with former Pirate Derek Bekar, scoring his first goal of the season.

The early goals spoiled the Portland debut of Bobby Goepfert.

''The goalie had nothing to do with it,'' Dineen said. ''The goaltending was a very small issue. There are recurring problems that keep biting us on the tail.''

Goepfert, up from the ECHL's Carolina Stingrays, started in place of Jhonas Enroth, who had started 13 consecutive games. Adam Dennis, Portland's other goalie, has been sidelined for a month with a hip injury.

Goepfert, a Hobey Baker Award finalist in 2007 while at St. Cloud State, had a 1.81 goals-against average in the ECHL and posted a 2.40 GAA in three games with the AHL's Hershey Bears.

He spent a month with the Pirates early last season but didn't play in a game.

Springfield made it 3-0 just 15 seconds into the third period when Carl Corazzini scored from the slot after Bekar fed him the puck from behind the left side of the goal.

Derek Whitmore spoiled Devan Dubnyk's bid for his second shutout of the season with less than 12 minutes remaining. Whitmore stole the puck and put in a shot from the right side off the goalie's right pad for his sixth goal.

Tim Sestito scored into an empty net with 1:22 left.

''We'll get ourselves out of this hole,'' Whitmore said. ''The only way to get out of this skid is good, old-fashioned, meat-and-potato hockey, hard work, and that's what we need to get back to.''

NOTES: Rookie forward Tim Kennedy returned to the Portland lineup after sitting out Saturday's game with a hip injury. The Falcons played without leading scorer Ryan Potulny, who was called up by the Edmonton Oilers after Saturday's game. Springfield center Ryan O'Marra, slugged in the face while sitting in the stands after Saturday's game, returned to the lineup.

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

pbetit@pressherald.com

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