November 5, 2010

Hockey Beat: Spending time on the road to find a home in the NHL

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Rookie center Luke Adam has spent the last 10 days on the road, splitting his time between the Portland Pirates and their NHL parent team, the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's been late nights with games and early mornings with planes," Adam said.

Adam's odyssey began two days before the Pirates left last week on an eight-day, four-game trip to play games in Virginia and North Carolina.

He flew to Philadelphia on Oct. 26 to play for the Sabres against the Philadelphia Flyers after Jason Pominville suffered a concussion.

The next morning, Adam flew back to Portland in time to practice with the Pirates and pack his bags for Portland's trip.

Then he flew with the Pirates to Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 28 and had a goal and two assists the next night as the Pirates defeated the Norfolk Admirals 6-5 in a shootout.

Adam flew to Texas early Saturday to play that night for the Sabres against the Dallas Stars. His second call-up to the NHL came after Nathan Gerbe suffered a jaw injury when he was hit in the face by the puck during a game at Atlanta the previous night.

On Sunday, Adam flew to Buffalo with the Sabres. The next day, he flew to North Carolina to rejoin the Pirates in Charlotte.

He scored a goal Tuesday night as the Pirates pulled out a 4-3 overtime win against the Charlotte Checkers, then had two goals Wednesday night as the Checkers won 5-4 to snap the Pirates' four-game winning streak.

Thursday morning, Adam flew to Boston with the Pirates for the return trip to Portland by bus.

"It's been busy," he said. "But it's something you don't complain about when you get a chance to play in an NHL game."

Despite missing the second game of the Pirates' four-game trip, Adam has a league-high nine goals in 11 games.

"It's definitely not easy going from city to city, being on a plane one moment and someplace else the next, but that's part of the learning curve of professional hockey," said Portland forward Matt Ellis, a veteran of nine pro seasons. "For a young kid, he's handled it like a true professional."

Adam averaged 111/2 minutes of ice time during his two games with the Sabres.

"It was definitely a different role for me," he said. "Here, I've been getting the opportunity to play on the top power play and play on the penalty kill. There, I was just playing even strength on the third or fourth line.

"It's definitely a learning process, but I feel comfortable going into the situation."

Because he grew up in Newfoundland and played junior hockey in the Maritimes, Adam also is comfortable with all the traveling he's been doing.

"I played my first two seasons in juniors in St. John (New Brunswick)," he said. "We flew to everywhere, so I'm pretty accustomed to that lifestyle."

THE PIRATES went back to work moments after stepping off the bus at the Cumberland County Civic Center at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

"We've got some games to play this weekend, so we're going to stay engaged until 10 o'clock Saturday night," Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. "Then we'll have a nice little period off."

The team participated in a 40-minute workout in the exercise room.

"Right now, we're right in the thick of it," Dineen said. "It's a hard schedule and we wanted to keep these guys in the mix."

TONIGHT'S GAME against the Adirondack Phantoms is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., a half-hour later than usual, to accommodate the seating of more than 3,000 teenagers with the Word of Life, a Christian fellowship group.

NOTES: Veteran left wing Colin Stuart carries a seven-game points streak into the weekend. Stuart and defenseman Drew Schiestel, who is riding a four-game points streak, share the AHL lead with a plus-minus rating of plus-10, which means the Pirates have scored 10 more even-strength goals than they've allowed when either one of those players is on the ice. Paul Byron, a forward in his second AHL season, has assists in four of his last five games.

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

pbetit@pressherald.com

 

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