Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By JIM HODGES
Special to the Telegram
NORFOLK, Va. - Marc-Andre Gragnani scored from the left faceoff circle after 1:05 of overtime Saturday night to give the Portland Pirates a 7-6 victory against the Norfolk Admirals and a sweep of their two-game weekend series.
WHO: Portland Pirates at Charlotte (N.C.) Checkers
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday
"Obviously, it was definitely an entertaining weekend," said Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen, who also saw his team skate to a 6-5 shootout victory Friday night.
It was the kind of weekend that can be recalled in times of need.
"It gives you a basis as a coach to say, 'let's revisit what we did in Norfolk,' " Dineen said.
It was a day that started with the Pirates' top scorer, Luke Adams, recalled to Buffalo and ended with six players scoring.
"What I liked about it was that I wasn't tapping the same guys on the shoulder all the time," Dineen said. "We were able to get scoring throughout the lineup. We're going to need that."
They needed it in the third period when Norfolk held a 4-2 lead and the Pirates were struggling, with only 11 shots through two periods.
But Derek Whitmore, who got the winning shootout goal Friday and scored in the second period Saturday, beat defenseman Mike Vernace to make it 4-3.
James Wright of the Admirals countered only 27 seconds later with a power-play goal, but Colin Stuart knocked in a rebound to cut the deficit to 5-4.
Only 53 seconds covered the three goals, and more was to come.
Johan Harju scored for Norfolk, but Travis Turnbull and Drew Schiestel answered for Portland to tie it.
"Travis Turnbull hasn't had a very good season but he came up with a great effort," Dineen said. "It was a well-rounded effort by a lot of players."
After Harju's goal, Dineen pulled goalie Jhonas Enroth in favor of David Leggio, who had been battered for five goals Friday night.
"Actually, Jhonas was cramping, but you know what?" Dineen said. "It was a bit of a turning point for us. It gave us a few seconds to regroup and compose ourselves."
And get the goals from Turnbull and Schiestel.
The winner came when Gragnani gathered in an errant Norfolk pass and fired.
"It was just throwing it at the net," he said.
"This was a crazy game. It was the craziest game I've been in for a long while."
It was a crazy ending to a crazy weekend in Norfolk, where the Pirates won twice to improve their record to 8-2.