Friday, March 7, 2014
By Tom Robinson
Special to the Press Herald
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — The Portland Pirates picked an unlikely setting for their first regulation win since Jan. 11 and perhaps their most important effort of the season.
Playing on the road against the East Division leaders, the Pirates bounced back emphatically from their roughest weekend of the season by using a big night from the special teams to turn back the Binghamton Senators 5-1 on Wednesday night.
The Pirates won for just the second time in 11 games by going 4 of 4 on the power play over the first two periods. They also killed all six power plays; Binghamton was ranked third in the league.
“We’ve had some good efforts,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “We needed to right the ship. I would say it was probably the most important effort of the year for us because we weren’t feeling great and it was important to start feeling better.”
Binghamton was partly responsible for that sick feeling in the Pirates’ locker room.
The Senators were one of the three teams to score seven goals against the Pirates last weekend, putting the worst of the beatings on the Pirates, 7-1.
“It’s been a rough little patch for us,” said Andy Miele, who assisted on two power-play goals and was one of the penalty killers. “I think the coaches handled it great.”
Chris Brown scored a pair of goals and Mark Visentin made 22 saves to halt a slump that has been lingering for 3½ weeks.
The 5-1 win matches a home-ice victory over Worcester on Nov. 8 for the biggest of the season by the Pirates.
Binghamton jumped in front when Jim O’Brien knocked in a rebound of the game’s first shot at 4:53.
“That’s a good hockey club,” Edwards said of the Senators, who have the league’s second-highest win total. “They play as fast as any team we’ve seen. I liken them to Manchester because they play with so much speed that their transition game is deadly.
“If you turn the puck over against them, you’re in trouble. We saw that on the first goal of the game.”
Brown scored goals 2:35 apart late in the first period to put the Pirates in front. He lifted a rebound over Andrew Hammond, then deflected a shot in front after Miele set up Brandon Gormley for a one-timer from the center point.
Brandon McMillan scored on a wrist shot from the right circle 1:49 into the second period for a 3-1 lead.
“It started with a great net front by Chris Brown,” Miele said. “If the goalie can’t see the puck, as long as those guys get the pucks through, there’s a good chance of it going in and, if not, there’s a rebound.”
Seconds after a penalty kill midway through the period, Visentin stopped Shane Prince’s breakaway.
Visentin handled a flurry of activity over the next few minutes before Gormley and Tobias Rieder broke the game open on the power play late in the second period.