Mike McKenna, the goaltender and Most Valuable Player from last season’s edition of the Portland Pirates, was the last player introduced at the home opener Saturday night.

Not surprisingly, he drew the biggest roar from a crowd of 4,275 at Cross Insurance Arena.

“Hey, they remember me and they appreciate what I’ve done,” McKenna remembered thinking. “It just makes you want to play that much harder.”

McKenna withstood a barrage of shots to keep the third period scoreless and preserve a 3-2 victory for the Pirates over the Hershey Bears.

Fifteen of his 24 saves came after Portland took a one-goal lead on Wade Megan’s backhander with a little more than a minute remaining in the second period.

“Obviously we want to win games,” McKenna said. “But if you come out of the gate flying and you make a name for yourself, and fans know what they’re getting, that creates a wave.”

Both teams are 1-1. The Pirates lost their opener 6-4 at Providence last Sunday in large part because they failed to kill off any of their three penalties.

On Saturday night, they killed off four of Hershey’s five power plays and converted two of their own, with Logan Shaw cleaning up rebounds both times.

“Special teams were a big part of it,” said Pirates Coach Tom Rowe. “It’s what we were talking about improving.”

The Pirates have ranked last the AHL in attendance past two seasons, the first featuring home games in Lewiston because of a protracted lease dispute. Rowe, like about half of Portland’s roster, spent last season with San Antonio and moved to Maine when the Pirates switched NHL affiliations from Arizona to Florida.

“We said it before the game,” McKenna said. “We don’t want to sit in here and play before small crowds. We want to play in front of packed houses, and we’ve got to win games to do that.”

The Pirates stumbled a bit in the first period, falling behind 1-0 on a short-handed goal by Dustin Gazley when McKenna couldn’t find the rebound after an initial save. Five minutes later, two quick tripping penalties gave Hershey a five-on-three advantage for 1 minute, 27 seconds.

With Shaw, Megan and Cameron Gaunce doing most of the work in front, McKenna turned aside Hershey’s bid for a two-goal advantage and swung momentum Portland’s way, much to the delight of the home crowd.

“That was huge,” Megan said. “We were able to come out of that with a little jump and keep it going.”

The Pirates scored all their goals in the second period, tying the score in the third minute after the break with Rocco Grimaldi and Brent Regner assisting on Shaw’s first goal. Garrett Wilson and Greg McKegg set up the second, with McKegg taking the initial shot and Shaw pouncing on the rebound.

“They were just garbage goals,” Shaw said, “but I’ll take anything I can get.”

Hershey made it 2-2 with a little more than four minutes remaining on a power-play goal by Jakub Vrana.

Three minutes later, Megan fended off Hershey defenseman Mike Moore and stuffed a backhander through the legs of Hershey goaltender Justin Peters to make it 3-2. Assists went to Regner and Gaunce.

Hershey held a 15-6 edge in shots in the third period, but McKenna slammed the door with help from his defense, never more so than when a rebound trickled precariously in front of an open net.

“I’m not sure whether it was (Jonathan) Racine or Regner who batted that at me (to smother), but big assist to them,” McKenna said. “That was a nervous moment.”

The Pirates and Hershey will play again at 3 p.m. Sunday in Portland.

“That was our (style of) hockey that we played tonight,” Megan said of Portland’s fast-paced offense. “Now the question is, can we do it consistently? We’ll find out (Sunday).”