January 24

Pirates lose fifth straight

Portland plays better but falls in a shootout.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

LEWISTON — It wasn’t embarrassing.

COMING UP

SATURDAY: Pirates at Manchester Monarchs, 7 p.m.

SUNDAY: Pirates at Springfield Falcons, 3 p.m.

Nor was it a victory.

The Portland Pirates saw their one-goal lead evaporate in the final 20 seconds and eventually lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday night before a crowd of 1,879 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

“Much better compete level,” said Portland Coach Ray Edwards, who had used adjectives such as “embarrassing” and “unacceptable” to describe Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss to Worcester. “We played a pretty good game. It (stinks) to get scored on late like that. It’s tough for our guys. We played much better but the penalties add up.”

Brandon Gormley scored twice for the Pirates, who earned a point despite losing for the fifth game in a row. Tobias Rieder’s tip-in of a Connor Murphy shot with 11 seconds left in the second period had given the Pirates a 3-2 lead.

Ryan Strome scored with 18 seconds remaining in regulation after Bridgeport pulled goalie Parker Milner in favor of an extra skater. Pierre-Marc Bouchard and former University of Maine captain Mike Cornell also scored for Bridgeport in a game that included 56 minutes of penalties in the first two periods.

In the shootout, Brett Hextall scored for the Pirates but Bouchard and Alan Quine did likewise for Bridgeport. The Sound Tigers put two shots on goal in the scoreless five-minute overtime period of four-on-four and prevented the Pirates from getting a shot on Milner, who finished with 31 saves.

Mark Visentin stopped 32 shots for the Pirates, who lost for the seventh time in 10 shootout situations this season.

All three Portland goals came on the power play. The Pirates outshot Bridgeport 14-6 in the first period and 13-12 in the second before Bridgeport surged in the third, putting 16 shots on net to Portland’s six and overcoming a disallowed goal with 3:35 remaining for “incidental contact” to Visentin.

“This is a pattern that we’ve been seeing, that we’ve been outworking teams in the third period in five-on-five,” said Bridgeport Coach Scott Pellerin, a University of Maine graduate who praised his players and staff for their work in conditioning. “We’ve been able to come back in games and put pressure on in the right time in games. It’s an identity of our team right now.”

Joey Diamond played alongside Cornell in Orono last season, giving the Sound Tigers three former Black Bears.

“Obviously we have a little bit of a connection,” Pellerin said. “Deep down you can see their identity as Black Bears. They’re feisty. They work hard. They make plays. They’re a big part of our team.”

The first period featured 11 penalties. Whistles continued in the second, very little of which was played with 10 skaters on the ice. The Pirates scored twice on the power play, with Gormley notching his second after Bridgeport had taken a 2-1 lead and Rieder deflecting in a shot from the blue line by Murphy to make it 3-2.

Bridgeport got on the scoreboard with a power-play goal by Bouchard 19 seconds into a four-minute high-sticking penalty on Chris Summers and went ahead with a four-on-four goal by Cornell.

“It’s fun to be back here,” Cornell said. “I have so many good memories in the state of Maine. Even coming back and feeling the cold and the fresh air. The first game here (on New Year’s Eve) I was a little nervous. This game I was able to settle down and play my game, and help the team win.”

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

Gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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