January 25

AHL: Luckless Pirates fall to Monarchs

Portland drops its sixth straight.

By Allen Lessels
Special to the Telegram

MANCHESTER — So close.

The Portland Pirates battled back and got the game tied, and it seemed they were headed to a shootout.

Then Manchester’s Linden Vey beat goalie Louis Domingue with a shot through traffic with just 1.8 seconds left in overtime to lift the Monarchs to a 3-2 victory over the Pirates at Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night.

The defeat followed Friday’s shootout loss after Bridgeport scored an extra-attacker goal with 18 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.

“It’s pretty demoralizing for the group to give them up late like that,” said Pirates forward Brett Hextall. “It’s unacceptable. It’s not bad luck. At least some of it’s not bad luck. It’s mistakes we’re making.”

Portland has lost six straight.

“We’re in a bit of a crappy place,” said Pirates Coach Ray Edwards. “We just can’t find a way to win some of these games. We’ve just got to stick with it and try to stay positive and try to learn from the mistakes and be as encouraging as we can.”

Domingue made 36 saves, while J.F. Berube had 26 saves for Manchester.

The Monarchs lead the league in points and were up 2-0 with 11 minutes to play before the Pirates started their rally.

The Monarchs got on the board first when Sean Backman connected for the only goal of the opening period 8:09 into the game.

Manchester had a wide territorial edge in the period, outshooting Portland 15-4.

Tanner Pearson made it to with his 14th of the season at 11:23 of the second period.

A minute after that goal, Manchester’s Andrew Bodnarchuk and Portland’s Brett Hextall squared off in a spirited bout in the Monarchs zone.

“Give credit to Hexie,” Edwards said. “He tried to get us going.”

It worked, and the Pirates picked up the pace. They had some good scoring bids in the latter part of the second period. On one of the best, Phil Lane deflected a pass from Chris Brown on goal, but Berube stopped it.

Portland finally struck for a goal with 10:38 left in the third period. Andy Miele deflected Brandon Gormley’s shot past Berube for his 17th of the season.

The Pirates tied it just over two minutes later when Ethan Werek picked up a rebound in close, circled behind the net and tucked the puck past Berube for a power-play goal with 8:25 left.

It wasn’t quite enough.

“I love the way we came back tonight and fought back to get a point,” Edwards said. “But we’ve got to learn from the first two periods, right?”

Hextall agreed.

“We got a point out of the game, but just one point is not enough,” he said. “We’ve kind of gotten tired of that. We’ve got to find a way to get two points every night.”

NOTES: The Pirates move on to Springfield for a Sunday game with the Falcons at 3 p.m. ... Manchester and Portland meet again next Sunday in a Super Bowl matinee at 1 p.m. in Lewiston. ... This was the first overtime loss during Portland’s losing streak, which includes two shootout losses.

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