Portland, ME – With all the players that are either in Buffalo with the Sabres or recuperating from injuries, the door has been opened for someone to have an opportunity. The Portland Pirates have four players that began the season on an ECHL roster and they’d make the most of it as part of 12 different players who contributed on offense in a 7-1 shellacking of the Worcester Sharks at the Civic Center on Sunday afternoon.
The Pirates, prior to the game, are missing 10 players who started the season in Portland and the list continued to grow, as Kyle Rank and Colin Murphy are both out due to various injuries suffered in Saturday’s games against Manchester.
Earlier in the day, Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen signed Trent Campbell from South Carolina and he didn’t arrive in Portland until just an hour before game time.
The flight didn’t bother Campbell has he scored two points on the night including the Pirates first goal when he centered a pass from behind the net to Dylan Hunter in the slot, beating Sharks’ goalie Thomas Greiss upstairs at 7:34 of the first period.
Exactly 10 minutes later, at 17:34 of the period, Zach Tarkir picked up Hunter’s shot from the slot and ripped a one-timer by Greiss who was sprawled out on the ice looking for the puck. It was Tarkir’s first career AHL goal. Matt MacDonald and Dylan Hunter were credited with assists on the play.
“You’re looking for guys who are going to come into the lineup with enthusiasm and they bring something to the game,” said Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen. “If you’re a guy that gets called up, it’s a new dressing room, new teammates and there is just that burst of enthusiasm and we certainly saw that out of (Campbell, Trull and Tarkir) tonight.
It was only 23 seconds later when the Pirates made it 3-0 after Derek Whitmore foiled the breakout out of the zone for Worcester and feeding the puck to Colton Fretter, for a one-on-one with Greiss.
Fretter deke to his backhand, lifting the puck by Greiss at 18:00 of the period as the Pirates scored three goals in a period for the first time since Dec 6 when they scored three goals in the second period on their way to a 5-2 win over the Lowell Devils.
Greiss was pulled at the start of the second period in favor on Taylor Dakers for the Sharks, but it didn’t matter because the Pirates didn’t let up, scoring two goals in the first 2:16 of the period.
At 1:08, Chase Trull playing only his second game with the Pirates scored his first career AHL goal to make it a 4-0 Pirates lead. Dakers made the original saves on Marc-Andre Gragnani and Marek Zagrapan, but Trull crashed the net, picking up the rebound as he stuffed it past Dakers.
“I don’t know who is doing all the scouting, but they are doing a great job,” said Derek Whitmore. “It really shows the type of players we are getting here, real blue collar guys who work hard and are making the most of their opportunities.”
“Opportunities don’t come around like this too often and the guys who have come up have done a great job.”
Before the 4,806 could settle down in their seats, Paul Baier ripped a shot from the point by Dakers, giving the Pirates a commanding 5-0 lead. Dylan Hunter notched his third point of the game with an assist on the play and Whitmore was credited with the other assist for his second point of the night.
Worcester would finally breakthrough when Andrew Desjardins crashed net, knocking the net off its moorings, but the puck just crossed the line as the Sharks cut the lead to 5-1 at 4:15 of the period.
Trull added his second point of the night at 13:22 when he fired the puck on net, but the rebound squirted out to Mathieu Darche, cutting across the crease, slipping the puck behind Dakers for the 6-1 Pirates lead.
Colton Fretter made it 7-1 for the Pirates with 1:50 left in the second period buried the rebound by Dakers. It was Fretter’s 12th goal of the season.
Despite the victory, not all was positive for Portland as they lost Tyler Bouck in the first period when he crashed into the goal post while jumping into the rush with Felix Schutz, he left on his own power, but didn’t return and Dineen said there was no timetable on his return.
NOTES: Earlier in the day, Tim Kennedy was reassigned back to Portland from the Sabres. He made his NHL debut last night playing against the NY Islanders, going scoreless, but impressed the coaching staff. He was supposed to arrive in time to play today, but due to travel issues, he didn’t arrive until after the game. The Pirates will finish the back half of the home at home series with the Sharks when they travel to Worcester tomorrow for a 7pm start. This is the game from Dec. 19 that was postponed due to inclement weather.