The Pirates first season in Portland was very magical for many reasons, but Mike Boback added more script to the Pirates lore with an amazing game in Albany as Portland eliminated the River Rats from the playoffs.
Portland, ME – Over the past 16 seasons, many players have come and gone in a Portland Pirates jersey. Players such as Jeff Nelson, “The Bruise Brother’s Kevin Kaminski and Kerry Clark, Corry Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Zenon Konopka have all made an impact in Portland, which can still be felt today.
Mike Boback was another player who certainly left his mark in Portland, if only for a brief time, helping to contribute to the Pirates’ Calder Cup run in 1994. Boback was an offensive player, but yet he wasn’t the flashy type. He never led the team in scoring during the regular season or in goals, only netting 16 goals for Portland in 68 games.
He missed 12 games during the regular season with various injuries and was never completely healthy, setting the tone for much of his season. After describing it as an “awful year”, he was able to finally recover and lift his game to a new level when it mattered most.
All season long, the Pirates had been in a fierce battle with their rivals from New York, the Adirondack Red Wings, who were led by Tim “not the tool man” Taylor (117 pts) and 50-goal scorer Mark Pederson, only to fall just short to the Red Wings who would win the Northern Division by a mere two points.
When the playoffs rolled around, the Pirates knew the Calder Cup would eventually go through Glens Falls, NY, but they’d have to take of business first with the Albany River Rats.
Mike Boback clearly understood the task at hand. After dropping game one in the series to the River Rats, the Pirates hunkered down taking the next four games, including three straight games in Albany, NY.
In the fifth and deciding game, magic was is air on that particular night, Boback – a man on a mission had felt the best that he’d felt all season long. Maybe it was the adrenaline or miracle touch of the doctor’s, but he was on fire this night, scoring seven points to lead the Pirates to a 9-2 win over the River Rats. His seven points tied an AHL record for the most points in a playoff game – a record that still stands today.
In the lopsided victory, Boback scored one of two hat tricks on the night, while adding four assists to lead the Pirates in the deciding game of the Northern Division semifinal. The other hat trick belonged to Jeff Nelson, but Boback was the story of the night and for much of the series.
It was only his second professional career hat trick, amazingly enough less than week prior, he would be credited with his first career hat trick in a 5-3 win in game two over Albany to get the Pirates rolling in the series.
In game five, Boback scored two of his goals while short-handed, capitalizing on the River Rats mistake prone power play.
After dispatching the River Rats, the Pirates set sail for the Red Wings, only needing six games to eliminate them to send Portland to their first Calder Cup final.
Boback led the team in scoring during the 1994 playoffs with 10 goals, 17 assists for 27 points as the Pirates would win the 1994 Calder Cup.
Still not in Pirates Hall-of Fame, Boback played just one more season in Portland before heading to Sweden with Sodertalje SK.
Boback made his presence felt during that ‘94 campaign putting himself in with an elite group of players to win the Calder Cup, but if it wasn’t for his heroics during the Albany series, than we may not be talking about the Pirates as former Calder Cup champions today.
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