Friday, May 24, 2013
By Paul Betit email@example.com
Justin Bowers is trying to make the most of his second stint this season with the Portland Pirates.
Justin Bowers is making the most of his second promotion to the Portland Pirates this season from the ECHL, contributing two goals and three assists in six games.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
Bowers, a 25-year-old center who grew up in Fredericton, New Brunswick, has two goals and three assists in six games with the Pirates since his promotion from the ECHL's Greenville Road Warriors on Dec. 31.
"He's getting an opportunity and, you know, when you get a guy who has a level of desperation to him, I think it makes a difference," Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. "You know, he was a pretty desperate guy and that was a big thing for him to come up here and demand to be an (AHL) player, and I think he's warranted the extended stay. He deserves it."
Bowers has traveled a circuitous route. Before becoming a professional in 2008, he spent three seasons playing for the Woodstock Slammers in the Maritime Junior Hockey League and two seasons playing for St. Thomas University in his hometown.
Prior to this season, Bowers had brief stints in the AHL with the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland, the old Quad City Flames in Moline, Ill., and the Abbotsford Heat in British Columbia. He has spent most of his time playing in the ECHL or Central Hockey League.
"No one likes playing three years in the minors, but I'm just trying to get a full-time job in this league," he said. "That's the first step. Then (I'll) try to make it to the NHL from there."
Injuries to forwards Derek Turnbull, Mark Parrish and Igor Gongalsky have left the Pirates short-handed.
"(Dineen) has given me a good opportunity here and I think I've made a pretty good shot at it here," Bowers said. "The path is there for me right now and I'm just going to help this team win and try keep a spot here."
In his first stint with the Pirates last month, Bowers went scoreless in three games.
"The first time I got called up I think I just tried to keep the puck out of my net and do the little things right," he said. "You always want to feel a new coach out to see how long your leash is."
The leash has gotten longer. During Tuesday night's 5-2 loss to the Binghamton Senators, Bowers logged time on the power play.
"We only had two power plays, but one of our best scoring chances came from a pass by him," Dineen said.
"He's got an offensive skill set. He's got a lot of patience with the puck. He knows what we need out there."
DURING THE PIRATES' last four games, T.J. Brennan, normally a defenseman, has spent the bulk of his time playing forward.
Since making the move, Brennan has contributed a goal and has two assists.
"He's got some jump up front and he's been a really responsible forward," Dineen said. "I think he's done a great job up there."
"It gives you a different perspective," Brennan said. "As a forward, I just look down the ice and try to make the simple play. I just try to chip it in instead of looking for that perfect pass."
Parrish, out since Nov. 26 because of a groin injury, and Gongalsky, who missed the last six games because of a concussion, are expected to return soon, so Brennan's time as a forward could be ending.
"I'm just trying to help out the team," he said. "Wherever they need me, I'll do my best."
WHEN HE SCORED his team-high 17th goal of the season Tuesday night, right wing Mark Mancari tied Martin Gendron for sixth place on the Pirates' all-time scoring list with 74 goals.
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