January 26, 2011

Portland Pirates:
Too few players, plenty of heart

Playing with just 14 skaters by the third period, Portland holds off Norfolk for a 2-1 victory.

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The undermanned Portland Pirates, backed a solid performance by goalie Jhonas Enroth, gutted out a 2-1 win against the Norfolk Admirals Tuesday night.

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Justin Bowers of the Pirates has his shot blocked by Norfolk goalie Mike Smith Tuesday night, but Portland went on to earn a fourth straight victory.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Admirals goalie Mike Smith keeps close watch as Pirate Dennis Persson’s shot is broken up by Norfolk’s Scott Jackson on Tuesday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Looking on is Portland’s Dennis McCauley.

Additional Photos Below


FRIDAY: Pirates at Providence Bruins, 7:05 p.m.

SATURDAY: Pirates at Connecticut Whale, 7 p.m.

Derek Whitmore matched his career high for goals in one season and Mark Mancari extended his points streak to 12 games as the Pirates skated to their fourth consecutive win, before 3,285 people at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

"You can't say enough to credit what the guys did today," said Whitmore, who scored his 18th goal of the season with less than four minutes left in the first period to open the scoring. "We finished the game with nine forwards and five defensemen. The last time I played a game with that (few) players was in Mites or PeeWees or something."

Because forwards Matt Ellis and Paul Byron were still in the NHL playing with the parent Buffalo Sabres following their call up last week, and defenseman Tim Conboy was serving the first part of a two-game suspension, the Pirates started the game with 17 skaters, one fewer than the number allowed.

Portland finished the game with 14. Forwards Maxime Legault and Brian Rolloff and defenseman Drew Scheistel limped off the ice with undisclosed injuries less than five minutes into the final period.

"It just shows the dedication and commitment to hard work this team has," Whitmore said. "That's a real big identity of ours is our compete level and our hard work."

"Nobody can outwork us," he said. "That's the one thing we can control is our work ethic, and guys take that to heart, and it really showed tonight."

Enroth made 12 of his 27 saves in the third period.

"The first two periods were like a normal game," he said, "but they pressed a little bit more in the third period."

Whitmore took advantage of some open ice to score his goal. Both teams skating short-handed when defenseman T.J. Brennan sent a pass from near the top of the right circle diagonally across the slot to the bottom of the left circle, and Whitmore, tilting the blade of his stick, deflected the puck inside the near post.

A little more than 12 minutes into the second period, Mancari stole the puck in the neutral zone and scored his league-high 27th goal on a breakaway to make it 2-0.

During his streak, Mancari, in his sixth AHL season, has 13 goals and eight assists. Anaheim Ducks star Corey Perry set the Pirates team record when he scored a goal or got an assist in 17 consecutive games during the 2005-06 season.

With less than eight minutes left in the game, Johan Harju jammed the puck through Enroth's pads for his 16th goal.


NOTES: The AHL suspended Conboy for two games because of his actions against the Worcester Sharks last Friday night. During that game, he received five-minute major and game misconduct penalties after knocking out Corey Quirk with a hit to the head. Conboy will be eligible to play Saturday night against the Connecticut Whale in Hartford. The Pirates, in first place in the AHL's Atlantic Division, moved three points ahead of idle Manchester.


Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: pbetit@pressherald.com


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Additional Photos

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Portland’s Alex Biega tries to break away from Norfolk’s Johan Harju in the first period. Call-ups and injuries shortened Portland’s bench for the game.


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