When Portland Pirates goaltender Mike McKenna turned pro 12 seasons ago, he was just looking to see how far he could go.

The answer was quite far, but the problem was that he seldom stayed long enough with one team to establish any continuity. McKenna has played for four National Hockey League teams, nine American Hockey League teams and one ECHL team.

If any one town has felt like home for the St. Louis native during his professional career, it’s Portland. McKenna has spent three seasons with the Pirates, including the last two, and he became the winningest goalie in the team’s 23-year history Saturday, making 17 saves in a 6-1 win over the Springfield Falcons for his 80th victory.

“To have as long a career as I’ve had and to be able to accomplish something like this is awesome,” he said. “I never expected that. I’m really proud of it, and it also makes me remember all the guys I played with along the way, all the great coaches and teammates that I’ve had.”

McKenna, who has been a part of three different NHL organizations while playing for the Pirates, now has one win more than Martin Brochu, who played parts of five seasons with Portland when it was the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals.

“I wouldn’t be standing here if we’ve won just 20 games and we’re sitting in the cellar,” McKenna said. “We’ve had three great teams when I’ve played here … Goaltending is so much related to your team. Success depends on everybody.”

McKenna first played for the Pirates during the 2007-08 season when they were affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks, posting a 24-13-1 record.

He returned last season, which was the Pirates’ final year as an affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes, and went 27-18-6.

This season, the Pirates switched their affiliation to the Florida Panthers. McKenna, the only holdover from last year’s squad, is 29-14-5 following Saturday night’s win over the Falcons, which had 10 members of last year’s Pirates’ team on their roster.

McKenna, selected in the sixth round by the Nashville Predators in the 2002 NHL draft, has played a total of 22 NHL games. After four years at St. Lawrence University, his first professional stop was with the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers during the 2005-06 season. He had no idea he’d still be getting paid to play hockey 12 seasons later.

“Going to the ECHL when I started wasn’t a negative to me,” he said. “I was just ecstatic that I was playing pro hockey. When I started, it was just a matter of playing for the fun of it and seeing how far it would get me.”

McKenna still loves playing hockey.

“He’s been around for a while, but he still treats the game as if it’s his first year,” Portland defenseman Cameron Gaunce said. “He’s got a lot of enthusiasm. He brings a lot of energy to the (locker) room. Everyday he seems to be upbeat, which helps a lot during a long season.”

McKenna has been the second busiest goalie in the AHL this season. Only Peter Budaj of the Ontario Reign has played more games and logged more minutes.

The Pirates have 10 games remaining in the regular season and currently hold the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Beyond this season, McKenna is likely to have plenty of opportunities to add to his record number of wins. He expects to be with the Pirates for at least one more season, because he signed a two-year contract when he agreed to return to Portland.

“I’m ecstatic (this) has happened here because every time you skate out, you see so many faces that have been here the whole time,” McKenna said. “My career here spans 81/2 years now, and you see the same fans and the same flags being waved.”

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