January 29, 2011

'Tired' Pirates lose and drop to second place

Down by four skaters and a third-period injury, a Portland lapse allows the Bruins a go-ahead goal.

By MIKE SCANDURA Special to the Press Herald

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Portland Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen wasn't inclined to make excuses for Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Providence Bruins.

If he was inclined, he had enough to fill a rink, considering the Pirates were playing their sixth game in 10 nights. Plus, they were without Travis Turnbull, Brian Roloff and Drew Schiestel because of injuries and Tim Conboy was serving the second game of a two-game suspension.

"We're tired," Dineen said. "We've got lots of built-in reasons for not coming out with a win. But at the end of the day, you've got to go out and perform. The games are on the schedule and you have to go out there.

"I don't think it was a horrible road game. I just thought they were a more desperate team and we had the one extra mistake that ended up in our net."

The mistake Dineen referred to came with the game tied 2-2 in the third period.

Zach Hamill slid a cross-ice pass to a wide-open Jordan Caron, who was stationed just outside the left post and Caron easily scored at 7:48.

Jeremy Reich scored into an empty net with 15 seconds remaining to clinch the victory that dropped Portland into second place in the Atlantic Division -- one point behind Manchester which beat Connecticut, 4-2.

Compounding Portland's problems was the fact it lost defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani in the third with an undisclosed injury.

"We lost a defenseman in the third period and that didn't help any," Dineen said. "It put a lot more pressure on us. We went with five defensemen in the third. But you know what? That's the nature of the game."

Portland "violated" one of hockey's cardinal rules by allowing a goal in the first minute of a period -- in this case 33 seconds after the opening faceoff when Trent Whitfield scored on a one-timer from the slot.

The Pirates tied it with a short-handed goal at 9:19 when Gragnani finished off a 3-on-1 break in somewhat bizarre fashion.

Derek Whitmore's shot deflected off the stick of a Providence defenseman, right to Gragnani who flipped the puck into an open net.

Portland took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission when Corey Tropp deflected in a Whitmore shot at 17:05.


The Pirates signed 25-year old defenseman Kyle Bushee to a tryout agreement on Friday. A native of Ostego, Mich., Bushee had three goals and 20 assists in 39 games with Wheeling in the ECHL this season.


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