After spending three weeks in the NHL playing for the Buffalo Sabres, rookie forward Luke Adam returned to the Portland Pirates Wednesday.

With veteran forwards Tim Connolly, Drew Stafford and Rob Niedermayer back in the Buffalo lineup after recovering from injuries, there was no room on Buffalo’s roster for Adam.

Selected by Buffalo in the second round of the 2008 NHL draft, Adam seemed to accept the move back to the AHL quite well.

“It’s good to come back here and keep working on my game, keep revving it out so I can get back to the NHL,” he said following morning practice at the Cumberland County Civic Center. “I need to work on all aspects of my game: defensive zone coverage, offensive zone opportunities, little things on the power play.

“There’s so much you can work on. It’s a great development league here.”

Adam had a goal and an assist in 10 games with the Sabres.

“Luke is still young in his development, but I thought he put in a good body of work while he was up,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said.

At the same time, Dineen was glad to have Adam back.

“I liked his enthusiasm he had out here today,” Dineen said. “That’s not always an easy thing, but it’s a good sign he’s learning as a professional.”

Despite missing the Pirates’ last nine games, Adam, who had 11 goals and eight assists while playing in 17 of their first 18 games, remains among the AHL’s top 10 in rookie scoring.

“What he needs to do to stay prepared and be ready for the next time the phone rings is to go out there and get involved with our group,” Dineen said.

At Wednesday’s practice, Adam skated on a line with Mark Mancari at right wing and Derek Whitmore at left wing.

Mancari, who returned Sunday from a three-game stint with the Sabres, and Adam ranked among the AHL’s top 10 scorers while skating on the same line during the first six weeks of the season.

“I think (their chemistry) comes from a quality of guys who have skill sets that can play off each other,” Dineen said. “They both have a knack for the net. They both can shoot the puck.

“They’re a hard line to cover. When they’re working hard, they’re very effective.”

Adam returns to the Pirates at a good time.

After managing only one win in seven games during the previous two weeks, Portland reeled off three consecutive wins last weekend to move into a tie with the Manchester Monarchs for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Two of those wins came while Mancari was up with the Sabres.

“When guys get called up, what it does is give opportunities to players who aren’t playing 15 or 20 minutes a game or on the power play,” Mancari said.

“What you saw was a lot of guys down here playing extremely well because their roles were expanded. That happens a lot. When guys get called up or injured, a lot of other guys have to change the way they play the game.

“From what I heard, the team pulled together and did a good job.”

RIGHT WING Mark Parrish has skated on his own the past two days, but he’s still not ready to participate in practices with the Pirates.

A groin injury has kept Parrish out of the lineup for the past eight games. He’s not expected to return until after the holiday break.

THE PIRATES will host a Night of Champions at Saturday night’s game against Manchester to honor athletes from teams that won high school state championships during the fall sports season.

Captains from some of the title-winning teams will participate in a ceremonial puck drop at center ice.

AFTER PLAYING three games for the Pirates last weekend, right wing Justin Bowers returned to the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors. 

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

[email protected]