Portland Pirates Coach Tom Rowe didn’t like the outcome but couldn’t fault the effort Friday night against the Utica Comets.

Carter Bancks scored twice to lead the Comets to a 4-1 victory before a crowd of 2,729 at the Cross Insurance Arena.

It was the third consecutive loss for the Pirates (7-9) and third straight win for the Comets (8-8-1-1).

The game was much closer than the score indicated. Utica nursed a 1-0 lead before breaking the game open late.

“We did a lot of good things,” Rowe said. “I thought we did what we wanted to do in the offensive zone. Utica plays a hard game. They really work and they’re organized. It’s just one of those nights.”

The Pirates held a 30-19 edge in shots but they couldn’t get the puck past veteran goalie Richard Backman.

“He angles the rebounds real good and their (defensemen) do a good job of getting the rebounds out of there,” Rowe said.

Rowe hopes his team gets another shot at Backman on Saturday night in the second game of the weekend series between the teams.

“If Backman’s playing we’ve got to get a lot of bodies in front of him and drive the net,” Rowe said. “We need to fill the lanes and get right in his crease.”

The Comets opened the scoring after seven minutes when Bancks redirected defenseman Ashton Sautner’s shot from the left point inside the far post.

With less than seven minutes left in the game, defenseman Taylor Fedun made it 2-0 when his slap shot changed direction after hitting Portland left wing John McFarland’s skate during Utica’s third power play of the game. It went in for his fourth goal of the season.

“You read the puck off the blade,” Portland goalie Mike McKenna said. “An 85 to 90 mile-per-hour slap shot that changes direction, you’ve got to hope it hits you.”

With less than a minute and a half left, after McKenna was pulled for an extra skater, Bancks put his fourth goal of the year into an empty net to make it 3-0.

Less than 20 seconds later, Chase Balisy made it 3-1 by converting a feed from Brent Regner into his third goal.

With less than minute left, Blair Jones completed the scoring by putting his seventh goal into an empty net.

“It’s frustrating not to win but on the other hand we played so well,” McKenna said. “It was just two chintzy goals. I’m not going to dwell on it and I hope nobody else dwells on it, because we have to come back and play them again (Saturday). I hope we play the same way and those good chances come back and convert for us.”

NOTES: Utica defensemen Alex Biega and Jon Landry spent time in Maine. Biega spent the 2010-11 season with the Pirates. In 2006, Landry played two games with the Pirates after four seasons at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.