SACO — As a Harvard graduate with a degree in economics, Dylan Reese has plenty of classmates whose Wall Street paychecks dwarf his salary as a pro hockey player.

Their advice, however, has little to do with arbitrage or shorting stocks.

“I talk to those guys who are in New York,” Reese said, “even the guys who are making the big money, and they all say, ‘Man, play as long as you can. You’ve got the rest of your life to do this.’ ”

Reese, 30, joined the Portland Pirates as a free agent this summer after spending last season in Russia. He has had 77 NHL games, mostly with the New York Islanders but a few with his hometown Pittsburgh Penguins.

What he sees four games into this American Hockey League season troubles him. The Pirates, last in the league a year ago, lost three straight over the weekend at Binghamton, Hartford and Providence after winning the opener at home.

“Losing is contagious,” Reese said, “and it’s not an easy thing to break.”


Reese, a defenseman, has been one of the bright spots. His three points, all on assists, are tied for the team scoring lead with center Alex Bolduc, the 29-year-old captain who returned to the Pirates after playing for the AHL Chicago Wolves. They are the team’s most veteran skaters.

“You’ve got a lot of second- and third-year guys here,” Reese said. “They went through a lot of losing. I’ve been part of some losing groups and it’s not fun for anybody. I think a lot of it has to do with habits and expecting to win. I think that’s where we need to grow, and we need to start doing the right things.”

Reese is a talker, on the ice and off. During Tuesday practice, he repeatedly barked out intentions and instructions during scrimmage action, not only to defensive partner Andrew Campbell but to their forwards and goalie as well.

“He’s good that way,” said assistant coach John Slaney, who concentrates on defense. “That just helps your partner and helps the other guys know where you’re going to be or where the puck’s going to be at all times. He shows it on the bench, too, talking to the young kids.”

Drafted in 2003 (seventh round) by the New York Rangers, Reese began his AHL career with Hartford in 2007 after exhausting his eligibility at Harvard. He played the next two seasons with San Antonio, then a Coyotes affiliate whose assistant coach, Ray Edwards, is now head coach of the Pirates.

“He’s always been a committed guy,” Edwards said. “He’s a solid defender. He moves the puck. He’s an intelligent player and he’s a competitive player.”


After six years in North America, Reese had an opportunity to make a lot more money in the Kontinental League and found himself in Khabarovsk, a city in far eastern Russia that lies 19 miles north of China. Japan was a two-hour flight away. Moscow? That flight took eight hours.

Reese said he enjoyed the experience but there were ups and downs.

“The game’s a lot different,” he said. “I thought there was a different level of competitiveness, just not the same edge you play with here. So I was happy to come back and get an opportunity here.”

Reese isn’t the only Pirate who played in Russia last winter. Center Justin Hodgman, who broke camp with Arizona but was sent to the Pirates last week before making his NHL debut, returns to the AHL for the first time since he skated for his hometown Toronto Marlies in 2010-11.

Since then, Hodgman spent one season in Finland and two in Russia, including last winter in Vladivostok, another far eastern city on the Sea of Japan. He and Reese swap stories of their time in Russia. The transition back to North America’s smaller rinks and different style has not gone as smoothly for Hodgman, 26, who had one penalty and no points in Portland’s three losses.

“I had a tough weekend,” Hodgman said. “I had to adjust when I came over to (Russia) and it’s no secret I have to adjust to come back here. … It will happen. I’m not worried about it.”


The Pirates have three more games this weekend, with a home game Saturday night against Syracuse sandwiched between trips to Manchester on Friday night and Worcester on Sunday. Ninety-five percent of the regular season remains, so a 1-3 start is no reason to panic.

Then again, considering the Pirates’ troubles last winter, Reese said it’s important to establish an expectation of success.

“You look through our roster and we’ve got a lot of talented guys,” he said. “Really, there’s no excuse to have a bad season. We need to win and we need to be in the playoffs, no doubt about it.”

NOTES: Matt Kassian, an enforcer with Ottawa last season who appeared in two games for the Pirates, is no longer with the team. Arizona released Kassian from his professional tryout contract. … The Pirates went 1 of 14 on the power play in their three losses and were outshot in all three games, by seven, 12 and 12 shots. They took nine penalties in Sunday’s 3-1 loss in Providence to only four for the Bruins. “We have lots of room to improve,” said Edwards, who emphasized cohesion during Tuesday’s practice. “Sometimes what happens is that guys get out of structure and start doing things on their own. When you do that, it’s tough for other guys to read, so you’ve got to play as five and play together.” … The Pirates signed forward Francis Wathier to a professional tryout contract. Wathier is a 6-foot-4, 210-pound left winger who joins the Pirates after splitting the 2013-14 season between the AHL’s Texas Stars and Milwaukee Admirals.

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