The new-look Portland Pirates make their home debut at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Hershey Bears at Cross Insurance Arena.

After four years as an affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes, the Pirates have partnered with the NHL’s Florida Panthers. With the exception of goaltender Mike McKenna, the roster has undergone a complete transformation from last season, including a coaching staff headed by Tom Rowe, a native of Lynn, Massachusetts.

Rowe and his assistant, Scott Allen, led Florida’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio last season to a division title and expect the same fast-paced style that worked well in Texas.

“It’s the same character that we had last year,” Rowe said. “What I like is that the kids we had in San Antonio are better this year. Their pace is better. Their execution is better. And then the new guys we brought in have probably made our lineup even stronger with the depth that we’ve got.”

The Pirates opened their 23rd season with a 6-4 loss at Providence on Sunday and gave up the quickest goal in franchise history, only seven seconds into the contest after a play Rowe drew up backfired. They also failed to kill off any of their three penalties and did not convert either of their power plays.

On the bright side, they outscored Providence 4-3 at even strength and dominated the second period.

Since then, forward Rocco Grimaldi has joined the team from Florida, having begun the NHL season on injured reserve because of a lower body injury sustained in preseason.

A second-round pick in the 2011 NHL draft, Grimaldi had 14 goals and 28 assists last season with San Antonio and saw action in seven NHL games, netting one goal.

“I’m feeling better,” Grimaldi said. “Just trying to get my conditioning back and everything.”

Rowe said his top line of Rob Schremp, Rob Flick and Shane Harper would remain intact, and that Grimaldi is likely to play right wing alongside center Greg McKegg and left wing Garrett Wilson.

The Pirates played four lines against Providence, and the third line of Brett Olson, Kyle Rau and Wayne Simpson produced four points.

Olson, however, sustained a lower body injury in practice Wednesday and will be out three to four weeks, Rowe said. Chase Balisy is the likely candidate to center the third line.

Last season marked a return to Portland for the Pirates, who played home games in Lewiston the previous season because of a lease dispute. Attendance rose by nearly 800 per game, but the Pirates still trailed the AHL in average crowd size at 2,963.

Brad Church, the team’s chief operating officer and a former Pirates player, said opening night is always “a last-minute push, but I’m confident we’ll at least be where we were last year, or a little over.”

Last year’s home opener against Providence drew the biggest crowd of the season: 5,601. Hershey, which remains in town for a Sunday afternoon game, is the AHL’s perennial attendance leader and drew an average of 10,046 last season.

Church said he’s optimistic the numbers will continue to improve for the Pirates, judging from positive feedback and season-ticket renewals.

“This year with our new affiliate and new roster, there’s certainly a sense of excitement about the season,” Church said. “I know the coaches and players are excited to play here.”