Manchester, NH – It’s no longer a slump, but an epidemic for the Portland Pirates.
Yet, the Pirates don’t seemed to be too concerned losing their fourth straight game (0-3-1), falling the Manchester Monarchs, 3-1, in front of a post-thanksgiving day crowd of 6,328 at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.
The Pirates piled on 42 shots, but could only get one by Monarchs goalie Jon Quick as they did an effective job at clogging up the neutral zone.
“It’s frustrating to play in those types of game,” said Pirates defenseman Mike Funk. “We came very close, but obviously close isn’t good enough for this league.”
The lone Pirates goal came at 17:23 of the second period while on the power play. Manchester Justin Azevedo was in the box serving two minutes for hooking when Tyler Bouck crashed the net, tipping Chris Butler’s slap shot from the high slot, beating Quick to make the game all even at 1-1.
“I don’t walk away from this game (unhappy),” said Pirates’ coach Kevin Dineen. “We’re disappointed in the outcome. I thought there were some solid moments for us in the big picture, but at the end of the day we’re rated on wins and losses.”
With the game tied 1-1, Portland had an opportunity to seize some of the momentum after killing off a 5-on-3 for 44 seconds, but despite have a couple scoring chances Manchester struck though with 9:01 to play in the period.
Pirates’ goalie Adam Dennis — who was solid all night (27 saves on 30 shots) — made a shoulder stop on Marty Murray as he crashed the crease. Portland failed the clear out the puck and Murray found Bud Holloway at the top of the left faceoff circle where he sent a wrist shot through a screen, finding the back of the net to take a 2-1 lead.
At 15:53, the Monarchs put the game away on a Trevor Lewis’ second goal of the night when he wristed shot by Dennis for the 3-1 lead.
“We pushed pretty hard at points in the game,” said Dineen. “It was a well played hockey game, but couple mistake ended up biting us in the tail.”
Portland, who opened the season going 12-1-1, has now dropped its last four decisions, but the Pirates haven’t pulled the fire alarm just, yet Dineen as a close eye on the bunch.
“We’ll evaluate as we go,” he said.
For the player’s, it’s about doing the little things better and not panicking
“It’s young in the season,” said Funk. “You’re going to have you up’s and down’s and that’s the way it goes right now. We’re not happy with a four game losing streak, but that’s the way it goes. There is nothing we can do, but dig ourselves out of it.”
“Not much needs to be said, we just need to go out and play a complete sixty and get a win.”
Positive news for the Pirates was the return of Dylan Hunter, who missed the last 12 games with a broken right toe. He played mostly on the third line with Aaron Slattengren and Colton Fretter.
“I thought he looked fine,” said Dineen. “I thought there was a shift at the end of the second period were he looked a little winded. He’s going to take a few steps to find his regular jump and that’s a natural thing.”
Notes: As Hunter returns to the lineup, several player’s were missing in action due to injuries with the most severe being to Jimmy Bonneau, who suffered a broken hand during a fight on Wednesday against Brett Westgrath. Dineen said he’s going to be out for an extended period of time. Also out of the lineup were Matt Ellis who is still nursing a lower body injury and Mike Card who has an undisclosed facial injury. Even with Hunter in the lineup, it left Portland short a player so Kyle Rank was signed to a PTO today about 4pm. Rank, a right wing, from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL played in 16 games, scoring 3 goals, 10 assists for 13 points.