The Portland Pirates continued their late-season drive for a playoff spot Friday night by rallying from an early two-goal deficit to a 6-4 victory over the St. John’s IceCaps before 2,119 at the Cross Insurance Arena.

“We’ve got some swag now,” said Alex Bolduc, who snapped a 4-4 tie with his second goal of the game with less than five minutes remaining. “Maybe earlier in the year, if we were down by a couple (of goals), we didn’t have the team to come back.”

The Pirates, who have points in 14 of their last 16 games, remained in fifth place in the Eastern Conference of the AHL, one point ahead of Hartford and Providence. Eight conference teams qualify for the playoffs.

“Right now we’re confident in our team,” said Bolduc. “If we are down by one, down by two, even down by three, I think we can come back against anyone. That’s the thing we’ve got going for us right now.”

Lucas Lessio of the Pirates opened the scoring after 18 seconds of a power play less than two minutes into the game. He finished off a breakaway with his 12th goal of the season, lifting a backhander past goalie Connor Hellebuyck.

Chase Balisy tied it by sliding a 10-footer under goalie Mike McKenna’s pads after winning a battle for control of the puck in the right circle. Ten seconds later the IceCaps took the lead when Jason Jaffrey scored into the left side from about 10 feet. With 22 seconds left, Julien Brouliette put in a shot from the top of the left circle for his sixth goal.


“There were four or five minutes in the first (period) where we stopped competing and we knew we were better than that,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “I give our guys credit to fight back into the game.”

The Pirates regained the lead by scoring three goals in the first 11 minutes of the second period.

Bolduc slid the rebound into the left side after Hellebuyck stopped Philip Samuelsson’s blast from deep in the right circle during a power play less than three minutes in.

Less than three minutes later, Francis Wathier made it 3-3 by putting in a shot from the slot for his fifth goal.

The Pirates regained the lead when Brandon Shinnimin finished off a rush by lifting the puck inside the left post for his 18th goal. It was the 100th point in his three years as a pro.

Portland completed a tremendous penalty kill to take its 4-3 lead into the third period.


With less than three minutes left, defenseman Dylan Reese (interference) and center Justin Hodgman (unsportsmanlike conduct) were sent off at the same time, leaving the IceCaps with a five-on-three edge for a full two minutes. The Pirates, who came into the game with the AHL’s fourth-best penalty kill, limited them to two shots in that span.

With 5:46 left, Jaffray swept a wrap-around shot inside the left post for his 10th goal to tie the score.

Less than a minute later, Bolduc scored his team-high 20th goal to send the Pirates back into the lead.

During a power play in the final minute, Phil Lane completed the scoring by putting a shot from just outside his own blue line into an empty net for his third goal.

“It wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination,” Edwards said.

“Right now we’ve got to find ways to win and I think we did that tonight.”

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