One of the hottest teams in the American Hockey League is hitting the road.

The Portland Pirates (10-7-1-1) have earned points in their last seven games to climb from the Atlantic Division cellar to third place.

Riding a five-game winning streak at the Cumberland County Civic Center, the Pirates will spend the next two weekends playing six games on the road against some of the AHL’s toughest teams before returning for a five-game homestand later this month.

“We’ve got a great test on the road coming this weekend against Hershey and (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton),” said defenseman Dean Arsene, a member of Calder Cup-winning teams with Hershey in 2006 and ’09. “Those are two really good teams in hard buildings to play in and win games.”

The Pirates have fashioned a 4-3-1-1 record on the road, outscoring opponents by a 26-24 margin.

“For the most part our road game has been pretty good,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “Even the games we’ve lost have been close games. Our game on the road has been a pretty smart, simple, hard game. That’s the kind of game we need because we certainly have some tough games ahead.”

Center Andy Miele, the AHL rookie of the month, and goalie Curtis McElhinney have played pivotal roles in Portland’s surge.

“(Miele) up front is one of those skill guys who can change the game when he’s out there,” Arsene said. “He’s got a lot of patience and vision, and he’s really been helping us by getting some timely goals.”

Miele, who capped his career at Miami University by winning the Hobey Baker Award last spring as college hockey’s top player, has four goals and nine assists in 10 games since returning from a two-week stay with the Phoenix Coyotes. He leads the team with seven goals and 13 assists in 14 games.

McElhinney who spent parts of the past four seasons in the NHL as a backup for Calgary, Anaheim and Ottawa, has allowed 11 goals in his last five games while stopping 168 of 179 shots for a .938 save percentage.

“In games where we haven’t played that well and we’ve gotten some points when we really didn’t deserve them, it’s all been because of (McElhinney),” Arsene said.

“He’s stood on his head, and that’s what you need from a goalie sometimes when a team is struggling.”

A number of players have contributed to the Pirates’ recent success.

In his last five games, Matt Watkins, one of Miele’s linemates, has three goals and three assists. Brett MacLean, another linemate, has two goals and four assists in 10 games since joining the Pirates.

Lately, Portland also has received offensive contributions from its defensemen.

In his last six games, Michael Stone has a goal and three assists. During the recent surge, Tyler Eckford had a two-goal game, and Arsene and Maxim Goncharov each scored their first goals of the season.

“There’s a lot of guys who haven’t been putting up points, but they do their jobs in other ways,” Arsene said. “Sometimes players do things to help us win that don’t show up on a score sheet.”

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

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Twitter: PaulBetitPPH