March 5, 2012

Newest Pirates start well

The Pirates beat Worcester 3-2 in a shootout to move within a point of a playoff spot.

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - A new player gets only one opportunity to make a first impression, and Portland Pirates forwards Brett Sterling and Kenndal McArdle made the most of their chance Sunday afternoon.

Sterling and McArdle scored goals in their debut, but the Pirates had to come out ahead in a shootout to pull out a 3-2 win against the Worcester Sharks before a crowd of 4,032 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

"It was their first game," Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. "They didn't skate yesterday. They traveled all day yesterday. Their legs weren't there, but, hey, they both scored and we found a way to win."

Sterling, on loan from the Peoria Rivermen in exchange for Patrick O'Sullivan, also was one of three Pirates to score during the shootout as the Pirates beat the Sharks for the sixth time in nine games this season. Andy Miele and Marc-Antoine Pouliot also scored during the shootout, while goalie Justin Pogge stopped 3 of 4 Sharks.

It was the third win in four games for the Pirates, and the first time they have been able to string two wins together in nearly a month.

Portland is one point out of the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot.

Worcester was close to losing in regulation, but Tim Kennedy, a forward who spent the 2008-09 season with the Pirates, sent the game into overtime when he scored his second goal of the game with 11.5 seconds left after the Sharks pulled goalie Tyson Sexsmith for a sixth skater. It is the first goal the Pirates have allowed in that situation this season.

It didn't take long for McArdle to make a contribution. Less 12 minutes into the game, he converted a centering pass from Alexandre Bolduc into his eighth goal on a quick shot from the low slot.

"I was happy to come in and contribute any way I can," he said. "I was lucky to get one tonight. I was happy with our line. If we continue to play together and start to click, I think we can be really effective in any role that we chose."

McArdle, on loan from the St. John's IceCaps in exchange for Brock Trotter, skated on a line with Bolduc and Matt Watkins at right wing.

Sterling scored his first goal as a Pirate midway through the second period when he won a battle with defenseman Matt Pelech for control of the puck inside the Sharks' crease and shoved it past Sexsmith for his 23rd goal.

"Lucky for me I was in a playoff push in Peoria, and it's the same thing here," Sterling said. "I've been battling the last month and a half. It's playoff hockey this time of year, and we're fighting with that team especially to get into the playoffs."

Kennedy intercepted Pogge's clearing pass and snapped in a shot from near the top of the left circle for his seventh goal of the season with 22 seconds left in the second period to make it 2-1.

NOTES: Goalie Peter Mannino, part of the deal that sent Trotter to the St. John's IceCaps Friday, served as Pogge's backup.

Sterling skated on a line with Brett MacLean at right wing and Miele at center.

Defenseman Maxim Goncharov, who missed 11 games because of a concussion, was back in the Pirates' lineup for the second consecutive game.

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

pbetit@pressherald.com

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH

 

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