January 31

AHL: Penalties kill Pirates’ comeback

St. John’s scores five power-play goals in beating Portland.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

LEWISTON — Ray Edwards didn’t mince words Friday night after his Pirates surrendered five power-play goals in a 7-4 loss to the St. John’s IceCaps.

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WHO: Pirates vs. Binghamton Senators

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: The Colisee, Lewiston

“We were undisciplined,” the coach said of Portland’s 10 trips to the penalty box, which paved the way to a fourth loss in four January games at The Colisee.

“Just disappointing,” said Edwards. “Our (penalty kill) was disappointing, our goaltending was disappointing and our discipline was disappointing. If you score four goals, you should win the game.”

The IceCaps have won five in a row and six of seven. The Pirates, coming off a 4-3 shootout victory Sunday over Springfield to end a six-game winless streak, have not won in Maine since New Year’s Eve.

They managed to tie the score at 4 on a Lucas Lessio power-play goal in the fifth minute of the third period but could not pull ahead despite nearly three more minutes with a skater advantage because of a St. John’s double minor for high sticking.

“Momentum is the biggest thing in hockey,” said Lessio, who also had an assist. “We’d grasp it and kind of let it go. It’s a learning lesson for us.”

After killing off the long Pirates’ power play, St. John’s scored the final three goals, two of them with a Pirate in the penalty box. Will O’Neill, a former University of Maine player, scored the seventh goal with a little more than two minutes remaining. Jerome Samson scored twice for St. John’s, which was outshot 37-33.

Mark Visentin made 26 saves for the Pirates, who host Binghamton Saturday night and Manchester Sunday afternoon.

Phil Lane, Jordan Szwarz and Brandon McMillan scored for the Pirates, who took a 1-0 lead 18 seconds after the opening puck drop when Lane converted a feed from behind the net from Tobias Rieder. Ethan Werek also picked up an assist.

The Pirates proceeded to kill three penalties and appeared poised to double their lead or at least maintain their one-goal margin when they went on the power play with 2:05 left in the period. Instead, after a frustrating half minute chasing the puck without success, Daine Todd was sent off for high-sticking.

“You check with your stick on the ice,” Edwards said. “It’s just a focus. You’ve got to move your feet. You’ve got to check the right way. There are details to your game and we didn’t check with detail.”

Six seconds later, after winning the ensuing draw, the IceCaps tied it on a shot from the outside the right circle by Brenden Kitchton.

The IceCaps built a 3-1 lead in the second period on power-play goals by Samson and Adam Lowry before the Pirates fought back to tie. Szwarz cleaned up after a breakaway by Lessio to make it 3-2, and McMillan added a short-handed goal on the rebound of a Mathieu Brodeur slap shot.

The 3-3 tie did not last, however, because more than a minute remained in a slashing penalty by Andy Miele and St. John’s took advantage with its third power-play goal of the period. Left alone in front of the net, Jason Jaffray tucked a backhand just inside the post to give the IceCaps a 4-3 lead entering the third.

Jaffray, 32, is a 12-year pro who will captain the AHL All-Star team scheduled to play a Swedish professional team Feb. 12 in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“We fought back twice in the game and continued to take more penalties,” Edwards said. “We just didn’t learn the lessons. ... The great thing is we get to play (Saturday) night. I was pretty hard on the group (after the game) so we’ve got to respond (Saturday).”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

Gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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