December 20, 2011

Pirates Notebook: Players get a gift: days off

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Portland Pirates are taking a break.

UPCOMING GAMES

Dec. 26: Worcester Sharks at Pirates, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 28: Providence Bruins at Pirates,6:30 p.m.

Dec. 30: Pirates at Adirondack Phantoms, 7 p.m.

Dec. 31: Worcester Sharks at Pirates, 5:30 p.m.

Literally.

Most of the players left town Monday for home.

The Pirates are not scheduled to play again until the day after Christmas, when they host the red-hot Worcester Sharks at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

"We could keep them here and practice Monday and Tuesday," said Portland Coach Ray Edwards, "but in reality Monday would have been a day off anyway, so you're going to keep them Tuesday? I don't think so. It's Christmas."

Some AHL teams will remain active through Thursday.

Eight AHL games are scheduled for Wednesday night, and the Chicago Wolves are scheduled to host the Abbotsford Heat in Thursday's only game.

No games are scheduled for Friday, Saturday or Christmas.

"All teams are going to be off this week, and the fact we're going to get a couple of more days off won't make any difference," forward Ryan Hollweg said. "I think having a break will be good. It will give (the players) some time to decompress and think about things."

The Pirates go into the break with a 13-12-2-1 record, tied with Providence for fourth place in the AHL's Atlantic Division.

"We've had a lot of hockey here, and some of it hasn't gone our way exactly as planned," defenseman Dean Arsene said. "It's nice to kind of get away and recharge the batteries and be ready to hit it after Christmas."

The break will enable Hollweg and Arsene to travel to British Columbia and spend time with their families.

"I've only missed Christmas twice going home, so every chance I try to get back," Arsene said. "Even being home for a couple of days is nice."

Last year, when the Phoenix Coyotes' top minor league affiliate was in San Antonio, Hollweg was able to make his first trip home for the holidays in a long time.

"That was the first time in about five or six years I was able to be home for Christmas," he said. "Usually, I was playing on the East Coast, and I didn't have enough time to get home."

Not all of the Pirates will be going home for the break.

"I'm going to New York for four days and just hang out for a little bit," said defenseman Maxim Goncharov, who is from Moscow. "Maybe, some other guys from other teams – Russians – will join me."

Last season, Goncharov played for the San Antonio Rampage and spent the holidays in Texas.

While it's doubtful most of the Pirates will be spending time on skates during the break, the players indicated it is important they stay active.

"You need to go out and run around and ride a bike," Hollweg said. "You don't want to stay on the couch eating turkey."

Forward Mike Hoffman, who planned to drive home to Cape Cod, intends to spend time working out with his boxing coach.

"I train year-round," he said. "I take a week or two off after the hockey season, but other than that I try to be mentally and physically as strong as I can be at all times."

All of the players are scheduled to return to Maine by Christmas.

"We'll have a little skate when we get back," Hollweg said.

THE PHOENIX COYOTES sent defenseman Chris Summers and goaltender Justin Pogge back to the Pirates.

Summers has played in 17 games for the Pirates, collecting two assists and 24 penalty minutes, and leads the team with a plus-six rating. He also has played three games for the Coyotes.

Pogge has appeared in seven games with the Pirates, posting a 3-2-2-0 record with a 3.22 goals-against average and a .891 save percentage. He spent last weekend with the Coyotes but did not suit up for a game.

WORCESTER SHARKS right wing Tommy Wingels was selected as AHL Player of the Week.

In four games, Wingels recorded four goals, two assists and a plus-6 rating as the Sharks closed out a seven-game trip, earning 11 of a possible 14 points, to climb ahead of the Pirates into third place in the Atlantic Division.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH

 

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