Worcester, Mass. – Last night, the Portland Pirates handed the Worcester Sharks their worst defeat of the season. Tonight, the Sharks made sure they weren’t going to be embarrassed in front of the 3,119 at the DCU Center as they beat Portland 3-2 in a game that was rescheduled from Dec. 19 due to weather.
It only took Worcester 1:31 into the period to score as Lukas Kaspar put a wrist shot by Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth from the top of the left face off circle. Portland didn’t have many chances in the period to even the score, being outshot 16-6 for the first 20 minutes.
It wasn’t until 3:30 left in the period before they registered their second shot on net despite having three first period power plays.
“We knew (Worcester) were going to be ready to play and we weren’t,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen. “You get as spanked as they did last night as they pushed extremely hard (in the first period) and we were in no way prepared for it.”
After two periods of play, the Pirates were still being outshot 27-14, but were able to get the tying goal with 21 seconds left in the period on a goal from Marc-Andre Gragnani.
Portland had a full two-minute man advantage when Kaspar was sent to the box for slashing and the Sharks bench took a minor for too many men on the ice at 18:25 of the period.
Gragnani, from the point, whistled a shot through a screen, beating Sharks’ goalie Taylor Dakers between the legs to give the Pirates renewed life with a 1-1 score.
In the third period, the Pirates had a small carry over from the bench minor, but it didn’t last long as Felix Schutz would be nabbed for roughing only four second into the period.
Worcester responded with a power play goal as Ryan Vesce grabbed the cross-crease pass from TJ Fox and buried the puck by Enroth at 1:24 of the third period.
At 8:05, Vesce tallied his second of the game in identical fashion, taking the pass through the crease, beating Enroth over his left leg pad for the 3-1 lead.
“We have to acknowledge that teams will come out and get in your face and you have to respond,” said Dineen. “Give up a power play goal and a very preventable second goal – it was a good spot for (Vesce).”
The Pirates tried to respond with a goal 1:20 later as Marek Zagrapan made a nice individual effort cutting across the crease, sliding the puck underneath Dakers to pull the Pirates back to within a goal at 9:25 of the third period.
Portland had a late rush as Mike Moore was called for tripping with 2:13 left in the game, but despite pulling Enroth for the two-man advantage, they couldn’t capitalize as the clock expired.
“We knew what to expect, but we didn’t start great,” said Pirates’ forward Mark Mancari. We talked about (before the game) that they were going to come out flying and we didn’t to play just as well, if not better than yesterday.
NOTE: Zach Tarkir left the game after his second shift when he took a slap shot of his right hand. It was in a soft cast, but Dineen said he would be re-evaluated later this week. Tyler Bouck and Adam Dennis have been added to the list of injured players. Bouck is suffering from a concussion after he was drilled into the goalpost on Sunday. As a result, the Pirates brought in Keith Johnson from the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. In 28 games with South Carolina, he’s scored eight goals, 10 assists for 18 points. Johnson is also a former player for UMaine, spending four seasons with the Black Bears. Dennis didn’t make the trip to Portland because he’s being re-evaluated for a lower body injury that he’s been suffering from for the last two weeks. Although, he’s been injured he may not have been able to play so the Pirates have brought in Maine native Ray Jean to be the backup to Enroth until Dennis health status can be determined, which is expected on Wednesday.