Worcester, Mass. – Mark Mancari, Tim Kennedy and Nathan Gerbe all had multiple points as the Portland Pirates held off the Worcester Sharks, 5-3, before a Wednesday night crowd of 2,202 at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.
Going into the night’s game, the Pirates had taken five of six points on the road and now were looking to extend their win streak to three games. However, it’s way too earlier for the Pirates to look at the standings…. just yet.
“Every one contributed and played smart,” said Nathan Gerbe. “It was a good road win and it was nice to get the points early.” Right now you want to win as many games as you can and not focus on the standings because it can come back to haunt you’re not focused on what you are doing.”
After not having a shot on goal for the first 10 minutes of the period, the Pirates would beat Sharks’ goalie Thomas Greiss with their first shot of the period as Mark Mancari found the rebound at the left post, sneaking it by Greiss with 10:37 left to play in the period. Tim Kennedy and former Shark Mathieu Darche were credited with the assists on the play. For Kennedy, it was his ninth game where he registered a point, keeping his point-scoring streak alive.
Just 15 second, Worcester Sharks leading scorer, Tom Cavanagh scored when he roofed the puck upstairs, over the top of Pirates’ Jhonas Enroth to tie the game at 1-1.
With a little over two minutes left to play in the game, the Pirates had an extended 5-on-3 for 1:29. They’d make the most it going up 2-1 on the Sharks with 1:51 left in the period when Nathan Gerbe, alone in the left faceoff circle, scored his first of night. He’d find the rebound at his feet and lift it over Greiss.
“I thought we were pretty good overall,” said Dineen, it was our fourth road game, but in saying that it was a tough stretch for us. Tonight, we come out fairly unscathed as far as injuries, but give credit we have our captain and assistant out of the line up and our big faceoff men and guys are stepping up into bigger role.”
In the second period, it was all Pirates for almost a full 20 minutes. Mark Mancari scored his second goal of the night on the power play. He grabbed his own rebound and beat Greiss glove side at 8:47 of the second period. A common theme on the night – Greiss having rebound issues – but, there was little the Sharks could do with Taylor Dakers out of action and Kyle Jones – goalie from NCAA DIII Champs St. Norbert – with no experience.
Steven Zalewski pulled the Sharks back to within a goal at 18:45 of the second period as he snapped the puck over Enroth, who made the initial save on Lukas Kaspar, but couldn’t get back into position quick enough to make the stop.
Early in the third period, the Pirates had a chance to put it way when Greiss turned the puck over to Mancari, however, he missed the empty-net and defenseman Paul Baier couldn’t get the puck past Greiss, who made an heroic effort to keep the puck out of the net.
The Sharks feeding off the energy, tied the game 3-3 at 4:29 of the period. A scramble ensued in front of Enroth, who couldn’t cover up the puck. Mike Morris, at the left post, stuffed the loose puck between the post and Enroth’s pad changing the momentum of the game.
Gerbe, still a rookie only playing his ninth pro game, stepped up to plate for the Pirates as they regained the lead with 11:07 to play in the game and then put it out of reach for the Sharks with his third goal, an empty-net goal, with 14 seconds left in the game.
It was his AHL hat trick of his career, one that certainly has begun on a positive note.
Notes: Just nine games into the season, the Pirates are starting to show some impressive stats. Mark Mancari (7g, 10a) is third in AHL scoring, while Tim Kennedy (3g, 12a) and Gerbe (10g, 3a) are fifth and sixth, respectively in AHL scoring and they also sit first and second among all AHL rookies in scoring. Gerbe is ranked second in the AHL in goals, while Mancari is 10th and Kennedy sits second in AHL assist, Mancari is fifth.
The injury bug has found its way to the Pirates locker room again as Colin Murphy was scratched from tonight’s game. Dineen said, he was questionable for the weekend, as he needed time to heal from variety of issues he was suffering.
Dineen also said it was unlikely Portland would be seeing Drew Stafford from the Sabres, he’s been in contact with Regier and Ruff and they’ve discussed several possibilities, but Stafford hasn’t been one of them.