Monday, March 10, 2014
By ALLEN LESSELS, Special to the Press Herald
MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Portland Pirates hadn't played in more than a week and the Manchester Monarchs were coming off two hard-fought games against Providence on Friday and Saturday nights.
Wednesday: Pirates at Manchester, 10:30 a.m.
Friday: Pirates at Springfield, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: Providence at Pirates, 7 p.m.
The Pirates took it to the Monarchs in the first period, opened up a two-goal lead and rolled to a 4-1 win Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Portland fired 25 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes and got goals from Brett Hextall, in his first game back after missing four with a wrist injury, and Brock Trotter, his first as a Pirate.
"When you're off for eight days.… We were ready to play somebody, I think," said Portland Coach Ray Edwards. "The guys were just ready to play a game. That's a lot of practice. They're not used to it."
Portland had not played since losing to Manchester 5-2 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Oct. 28.
"It's a long time to not play a game," said Hextall, whose father, Ron, is the Monarchs' general manager.
The layoff gave Hextall extra time to recuperate.
He knocked in a cross-ice pass from Trotter at 11:29 of the first period to open the scoring.
"It was nice to see him be able to put the puck away like he did," Edwards said. "I think today was a day for him to get some confidence, knowing that he's fine.… Brett was good. He does what he does. He's sort of in their face and he's a yapper. He gets under people's skin."
Trotter made it 2-0 just over two minutes later on the power play when he put in a rebound of a long shot by defenseman Nathan Oystrick from out front. Oystrick also had an assist on Hextall's goal.
Edwards liked that the Pirates got goals from assorted lines, too.
Ryan Duncan added his fourth of the year at 14:09 of the second period and Colin Long pushed it to 4-0 with his second at 10:25 of the third.
Marc-Andrew Cliche spoiled goalie Justin Pogge's shutout, scoring with 6:55 left in the game.
Pogge had 32 saves, 16 in the first period.
"They had some good scoring chances and he was really good, and he hasn't played in a while," Edwards said.
"I was impressed with the way he gave us a solid win tonight. He made some big saves."
Portland outshot Manchester 47-33 and the 25 shots in the first period were one short of the franchise record, registered against Worcester in the second period on Jan. 5, 1996.
"We looked up there at the end of the first period and I couldn't believe how many shots we had," Hextall said.
They got them in bunches, starting with a couple of early power plays.
"A lot of those were rebounds, too," Hextall said.
"One of the things we talked about was after our first chances, retrieving the puck and not having one chance or one shot and then we're backchecking. Getting after the puck and getting it back and playing down there and getting second and third opportunities instead of just one and done."
It worked well Sunday.