Friday, March 7, 2014
By Paul Betit firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates didn’t play like a team trying to set a franchise record for consecutive victories on its home ice Friday night.
TODAY: Pirates at Hartford Wolf Pack, 7 p.m.
SUNDAY: Albany River Rats at Pirates, 4 p.m.
The Albany River Rats skated to a 4-2 win before a crowd of 4,597, handing the Pirates their first loss at the Cumberland County Civic Center in more than a month.
“We were sloppy tonight, and it cost us,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said, referring to turnovers that led to the River Rats’ first three goals. “There are times when you can get away with that kind of effort.”
The Pirates were shooting for their ninth consecutive win at the Civic Center.
“They outworked us in a lot of ways,” Dineen said. “The game plan was spotty at best, and there wasn’t much execution by the players. You can leave it up to bounces to see who gets the points at the end of the night, and (Albany) probably deserved it more than we did.”
The Pirates are in the midst of a stretch of eight games in 10 days, but Dineen refused to blame the team’s performance on its busy schedule.
“We’re done talking about fatigue,” Dineen said. “We’ve had that conversation. We’re done talking about fatigue being a factor in our game right now. It’s no longer a reason for playing the way we did. The games are on the schedule. You’ve got to play them.”
The River Rats took the lead for good with 9:37 remaining. Jhonas Enroth stopped Jerome Samson on a breakaway after Samson intercepted a pass, but Brad Herauf poked the rebound into right side of the goal.
The Pirates held a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.
Albany right wing Matthew Pistilli opened the scoring 3:50into the game, following a Portland turnover. Pistilli tipped in Jacob Micflikier’s feed from across the slot for his fourth goal of the season.
Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani made it 1-1 at 5:24 when he scored eighth goal of the season on a blast from the top of the slot while Portland skated with a two-man advantage. It was Gragnani’s third goal in four games.
Paul Byron, a rookie center who returned to the lineup after a 10-game absence, snapped the tie at 11:45 by converting rookie forward Travis Turnbull’s centering pass from behind the right side of the goal for his eighth goal.
Albany’s Drayson Bowman tied the score by flipping in a rebound for his 13th goal with 34 seconds left in the second period.
Chris Terry’s empty-net goal with 21 seconds left completed the scoring.
NOTES: Nathan Gerbe, who returned from a 13-game absence Tuesday night, was out of Portland’s lineup for the second consecutive game because of a groin injury. “We’re cautiously trying to get him to where he’s at 100 percent,” Dineen said. “When he comes back, we’re not going to put him in a position where he is a question mark. We want to make sure he’s 100 percent.” …
The Pirates intend to use the Jumbotron to keep fans updated on the Olympic men’s hockey gold-medal game Sunday afternoon during their 4 p.m. game against Albany. … A concussion kept Kyle Wanvig out of the Portland lineup for the fourth consecutive game. … Two former Lewiston Maineiacs, Stefan Chaput and Jonathan Paiement, were in the Albany lineup.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: