Friday, March 7, 2014
By MIKE SCANDURA Special to the Telegram
WORCESTER, Mass. - Any resemblance between the Portland Pirates team that had lost nine of its last 12 games and the team that beat the Worcester Sharks on Saturday night was pure coincidence.
WHO: Springfield Falcons (25-25-2-2, 4th in AHL’s Northeast Division) at Portland Pirates (24-24-3-3, 5th in AHL’s Atlantic Division)
WHEN: 4 p.m.
WHERE: Cumberland County Civic Center
RADIO: WPPI 95.5 FM, WPEI 95.9 FM
FALCONS NOTES: The Falcons, who won 2-0 at Hartford on Saturday night, have won five of their last 10. Veteran forward Alexandre Giroux has put up points in seven of his last eight games, and LW Dane Byers has goals in four of his last five games. Springfield has won four of its six games against the Pirates.
PIRATES NOTES: The Pirates snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-1 win at Worcester on Saturday night. Portland has lost nine of its last 13 games. Veteran forwards Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Patrick O’Sullivan have posted points in six of their last eight games. In six games against the Falcons, rookie forward Jordan Szwarz has three goals.
– Paul Betit
What made this 5-1 victory even more impressive was the fact Portland again played without a few regular defensemen.
"(Mark) Louis and (Corey) Syvret are up (with the Pirates on tryout contracts)," Coach Ray Edwards said. "(Dave) Rundblad's up (with Phoenix). (Mike) Stone's up. (Chris) Summer's up.
"These young guys came in and did a good job. Tonight was better than (Friday) night (a 5-1 loss at Connecticut). I'm proud of the effort tonight. We stuck to a game plan and were able to score some goals and were able to keep the puck out of our net."
Marc Cheverie (34 saves) was another reason the Pirates were able to keep the puck out of their net, while the line of Andy Miele, Mathieu Beaudoin and Ryan Duncan was a primary reason Portland was able "to score some goals."
The trio combined for three goals and five assists, with Duncan scoring twice and Miele assisting on three goals for the third time this season.
"That was a good night for them," Edwards said. "We need them to produce for us. It was good to get some points out of those guys tonight."
Beaudoin opened the scoring barely two minutes into the first period when he flicked the puck off a Sharks' stick after a Miele shot.
Duncan made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 11:25 when he scored on a one-timer from the slot after a Miele pass.
Evan Bloodoff upped the lead at 4:02 on a play that prompted Worcester Coach Roy Sommers to yank goalie Harri Sateri in favor of Tyson Sexsmith.
Jordan Szwarz caught Sateri out of position and threw the puck in front to Bloodoff, who scored into an open net.
Nathan Moon scored Worcester's goal at 9:38 of the first when he buried a rebound. But Szwarz countered at 16:21 and Duncan put the game out of reach at 1:51 when he beat Sexsmith on a forehand drive from the slot.
The fact Edwards and his staff were able to keep the Pirates from imploding during their slump also was a noteworthy aspect of this victory.
"Your mind plays tricks on you," Edwards said. "The biggest thing we have to control right now is our mental state. You can't get down and look around and say 'We don't have this guy and we don't have this guy and they have this guy and this guy.'
"You just have to go play the game. Every game starts zero-zero. You've got to find a way to get points. No matter who's in your lineup, you've got to execute your game plan and tonight we worked hard. That has to be a staple for us to have success."