MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Portland Pirates made a dramatic entrance into the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs, having to win their last two games to get in. Now they’re hoping to ride that momentum for a long playoff run.

And not just for themselves.

Portland will have a new NHL affiliate next year. The Florida Panthers will send their prospects to the Pirates next year with the Phoenix Coyotes moving their AHL affiliation to Springfield, Massachusetts.

Knowing their time in a Pirates sweater is dwindling, the players want to make the most of this playoff run, starting with the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Manchester Monarchs. The teams opened the best-of-five series Thursday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

“For sure, we love the city here and love the fans,” said center Alexandre Bolduc, who returned to Portland this year after playing for the AHL Chicago Wolves in 2013-14. “It’s disappointing that the business aspect of it is that we can’t stick around here. Who knows what will happen? Some guys might be back.

“But for sure we want to finish on a good note for the city and the fans who have been there for us.”

Bolduc played in Portland for two years before leaving for Chicago last year. He came back to the Coyotes this year on a two-way contract because, he said, he enjoyed his previous time in Portland. He led the Pirates with 23 goals and 29 assists.

“I want to keep it going, keep playing,” he said after practice Wednesday. “I like the city. I want to keep it going as long as we can.”

Center Brendan Shinnimin, second on the team in scoring with 22 goals and 24 assists, echoed those sentiments.

“I’ve been here for three years and the fans have been outstanding,” he said. “To see the fans coming back each year and giving us the support we needed to make a playoff run is pretty amazing. So we’d like to give back to them and make this an exciting playoff experience for them, giving them something to be excited about going into the next affiliation.”

Ray Edwards, the Pirates’ coach and general manager, said this year’s playoff berth was a way to forget last year’s lost season, where the Pirates played in Lewiston and finished with the AHL’s worst record, missing the playoffs.

“We know this group of coaches, players, equipment managers won’t be part of the Portland Pirates (next year) and we obviously want to be remembered in a good way,” said Edwards. “I think making the playoffs is real good to be able to do that, to sort of erase last year. And now we have an opportunity to do more and that’s what we want to do.”