Lewiston, ME – The Androscoggin Bank Colisée had a little bit of everything.
Scoring, fighting and a fire alarm… Yes, you heard it right, a fire alarm.
Prior to the start of the game, about three minutes left in the pre-game warm-up, a fire alarm went off in the building forcing those in attendance to proceed outside for a brief moment.
It didn’t have an effect on the outcome as the Pirates went on for their sixth straight win, eighth in their last nine games, beating the Albany River Rats, 6-3, in front of 2,444 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisée on Friday evening.
Entering the night, the Pirates hadn’t lost to the River Rats on home ice, going 7-0, so it was only fitting to continue the streak in Lewiston, the first of two games to be played in Lewiston this season.
“It was fabulous from the way we were treated this morning,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen. “Our player’s enjoyed the atmosphere. It’s one of those unique experiences.”
Albany opened the scoring on the power play in the first period with a rather controversial goal.
Former MAINEiac defenseman, Jonathan Paiement fired a shot from the point, which Dan LaCouture got a piece of as it beat Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth on the inside post. It was a goal the Pirates was not happy with at all.
The first (goal) was a high-stick,” said Dineen. “It was pretty cut and dry on the video, but what are you going to do. That stuff happens.”
At 9:38, the Pirates would tie the game at 1-1 when Marek Zagrapan scored his third of the season. Nathan Gerbe streaking into the zone, sent a cross-ice feed to Zagrapan, who whack at it with a backhand, beating River Rats goalie’ Daniel Manzato. It was Zagrapan’s first goal since Oct 25, a 5-4 win against the WB/S Penguins.
“(Zagrapan) is playing with some high-end talent and we expect him to put the puck in the net,” said Dineen. “He creates a lot of things in front of the net and sometimes they don’t go in, but we do expect him to be an offensive force.”
The Pirates made it 2-1 only 56 seconds later when Derek Whitmore racing down the right wing, fired a wrist shot top-shelf over the glove of Manzato for his first goal of the season.
A little over a minute later at 11:52 of the first period, Nicolas Blanchard tied the game at 2-2 when he sent a weak backhand by Enroth, a goal he would have certainly liked back and one that Dineen believes was a symbol of his night.
“I thought he was alright, I’ve seen him play better and I think he’d agree he’s played better”
The Pirates would explode for three goals within a span of 2:02 in the second period.
At 2:27 with the Pirates shorthanded, Mark Mancari out muscled Albany’s Mark Flood, beating Manzato with a nifty inside out move, giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
At 3:39, Mathieu Darche gave the Pirates a two-goal lead picking up Tim Kennedy’s rebound, stuffing the puck by Manzato.
That ended Manzato’s night as he was replaced by Justin Peters, who was 0-5 on the season.
Just 1:10 later, Nathan Gerbe picked up a loose puck in front of the net, putting by Peters to give the Pirates a 5-2 lead.
Sitting the three-goal lead, the Pirates were outshot 10-4 in the final 20 minutes.
“We have to not play the score, but the way our team is trying to establish (their identity) early in the season,” said Dineen.
Albany pulled to within two goals on a goal by Jerome Samson with 2:30 left in the game, but that would be as close as the River Rats would get as Nathan Gerbe scored his second of the night with an empty-net at 19:57.
It was two points and the Pirates will take it, but they know they need to play better with division rival, the Providence Bruins, coming to town tomorrow night.
“Artist usually throws a few canvases away and that was not a pretty one at all,” said Dineen. “You don’t critique the wins too badly. I don’t think our guys walk out of here feeling great.”
“I think our scoring was obviously there and it was nice to see that we were opportunistic around the net, but I think all of us know we gave up too many scoring chances in the third period, which was a bit of an issue.”
NOTES: Former UMaine defenseman Keith Carney retired from professional hockey. He spent three seasons with the Black Bears and was a teammate of current Pirates assistant coach Eric Weinrich Chicago with the Blackhawks. Carney spent 16 years in the NHL with Buffalo, Chicago, Phoenix, Anaheim, Vancouver and Minnesota.
“(Carney) and I struck a nice bond together (in Chicago) and when he was traded it was really tough on me,” said Weinrich. He turned into an outstanding defender and he was one of those guys who had a lot of poise with the puck.