Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By ALLEN LESSELS Special to the Press Herald
MANCHESTER, N.H. - Things were going well for the Portland Pirates as Sunday's game against the Manchester Monarchs passed its halfway point.
FRIDAY: Pirates at Providence Bruins, 7:05 p.m.
SATURDAY: Manchester Monarchs at Pirates, 7 p.m.
And then, all of a sudden, they weren't.
The home team scored a couple quick goals to grab the lead and rolled on to a 5-2 win over the Pirates at Verizon Wireless Arena.
"The first half of the game we were fine," said Portland Coach Ray Edwards. "We just end up giving them the game. Three horrible turnovers and it's basically, 'Here you go.' It's disappointing that we made it easy for them. If they're going to earn something, let's make them earn it."
Manchester snapped Portland's three-game road winning streak and took a 4-3 lead in the season series.
The Pirates lost for the third time in their last four games and dropped consecutive games for the first time in two months. They were beaten 4-1 at home Saturday night by Connecticut.
"Last night was a tough one," said forward Andy Miele. "We've got a lot of guys traveling, so we're pretty tired, but that's not really an excuse. There's no reason we should be getting outcompeted the way we have been."
The Pirates dropped to 24-15-1-1 but continue to lead the AHL's Atlantic Division. The Monarchs improved to 20-17-2-2 and are second, six points behind Portland.
"Really, the last handful of games we've gotten away from the identity we're supposed to play with," Edwards said
The Pirates took a 2-1 first-period lead.
Darian Dziurzynski's third goal in as many games opened the scoring 3:26 into the contest.
The Pirates had all kinds of traffic in front of Monarchs goalie Martin Jones, and when Phil Lane threw the puck toward the net from the right boards, Dziurzynski was able to deflect it in.
Jordan Weal answered for the Monarchs with a power-play goal at 12:53.
Portland went back in front just over two minutes later with its own power-play goal. Brandon Gormley scored it, snapping a 0-for-23 Portland drought with the man advantage.
The Pirates held the lead for nearly a period, but then the Monarchs grabbed control with a pair of quick goals late in the second period.
The tying goal was set up by Brian O'Neill, who took the puck from a Portland defender behind the net and fed Andy Andreoff in front. Andreoff beat Chad Johnson (25 saves), and it was 2-2 with 5:38 left in the period.
O'Neill and Andreoff then set up Marc-Andre Cliche in front for the go-ahead goal just over two minutes later.
It was still 3-2 with 12 minutes left in the game when Miele, coming down the middle, took a nice feed from Chris Conner and went in alone on Manchester goalie Martin Jones. Jones held his ground and turned away the bid with his right pad.
"During our streak when we were winning a bunch of games, that puck goes in and we find a way to win the game," Edwards said.
Instead, about a minute later, Jordan Weal stole the puck and beat Johnson to make it 4-2. Less than a minute after that, David Meckler finished off the Pirates with another goal.