After compiling one of the best home records in the American Hockey League, the Portland Pirates will be playing on the road a lot in the next month.

In January, the Pirates played eight of their 15 games at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

In February, Portland will play seven of its 10 games on the road.

“We’ve proven that we can play well at home and win games,” Portland defenseman Drew Schiestel said. “You definitely have to prove yourself on the road, too. Whatever it is, you have to win a game on the road at some point.”

At the Civic Center this season, the Pirates are 17-3-3-1, and their home winning percentage of .792 is tops in the AHL.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, with a 20-6 record, follow with a .769 home winning percentage.

Last month the Pirates went 7-1 at the Civic Center and 4-3 on the road to move within a point of the Manchester Monarchs, the Atlantic Division leaders.

“It’s fun playing in our building, playing in front of our own fans, and I think we did a good job of taking advantage of that,” left wing Derek Whitmore said. “We’re a good team at home. Now we’ve got to go and be an even better team on the road.”

“Since we’re playing pretty good hockey right now, I think it’s a perfect time to go on the road to test our ability there, too, and go against some adversity and see how we come out,” Schiestel said.

Portland has a 12-11-1 record on the road. With a .521 winning percentage on the road, it ranks 19th among the 30 teams in the AHL.

“Our road record isn’t bad but it’s something we can always improve upon,” Whitmore said.

“You play 40 road games in the season, and you want to get at least 20, 25 wins minimum, and that’s definitely a goal of ours.”

FORWARD PAUL BYRON was recalled Wednesday by the Buffalo Sabres.

This is the second call-up for Byron, who had a goal and an assist in two games for the Sabres just prior to the All-Star break.

Byron, 21, scored his first NHL goal Jan. 25 at Ottawa after picking up his first NHL assist Jan. 23 against the New York Islanders.

In his second season in the AHL, Byron ranks third on the Pirates in scoring with 14 goals and 17 assists, including seven power-play goals, which leads the team.

MILWAUKEE CENTER Blake Geoffrion was named the AHL Player of the Week after scoring three goals with three assists to lead the Admirals to victories against Peoria and Rockford.

Whitmore, who scored two goals and had two assists in three games, also was nominated for the award.

AFTER TAKING four days off because of the AHL All-Star break, the Pirates will return to practice at 1:30 p.m. today at the Civic Center.

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

[email protected]