Glens Falls, NY – Jhonas Enroth made 44 saves to hold the Albany River Rats to two goals in 65 minutes of play, but Pat Dwyer and Jonathan Paiement scored in the shootout as the River Rats downed the Portland Pirates, 3-2, in front of an announced sellout crowd of 5,462 at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday night.
These two teams will meet again on Tuesday, as the Pirates will play at the home of the NHL parent club Buffalo Sabres, HSBC Arena.
With the Pirates leading, 2-1, in the third period, the River Rats tied the game on a power play goal at 5:01 of period as Mark Flood fired a slap shot through a screen, beating Enroth between the legs.
Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen was critical of referee Francois St. Laurent, as the River Rats had doubled the Pirates (eight power plays vs. four power plays) on the man advantage. Eight different players for the Pirates took a minor penalty in the game.
“We spent so much time killing penalties tonight that we had no momentum,” said Dineen. “Officiating is so inconsistent in what is being called and what it not, but there is nothing that we can do. We’ve seen this numerous times and it’s usually the same official… the numbers are just so unbalanced.”
“We just have to go out there and play our game.”
In the first period, the Pirates didn’t have their legs in the first period as Albany controlled much of period. River Rats’ forward Casey Borer gave his team the 1-0 lead late in the first period.
Borer, at the left face off circle, fired a hard wrist shot, catching the iron at the right corner past Enroth at 15:59 of the first period.
Colton Fretter tied the game for Portland just 1:48 into the second period as he worked the puck around the boards to in front of the crease, where he snapped a backhander past the five-hole of Rats’ goalie Justin Peters.
The Pirates applied the pressure in the period, outshooting the Albany briefly 15-12, but by end of the period, Albany regained the lead in shots by a substantial margin, 31-16.
Although, the Pirates power play didn’t see much action, going 1-for-4, they would capitalize with 2:45 left in the second period as Mark Mancari fired a slap shot that beat Peters over the glove as the puck rang off the goal post to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead after forty minutes of play.
Enroth took the loss, but his 46 saves gave the Pirates a chance to win.
“He’s not big in size, but he has a big heart and gives us a chance to win every night,” said Dineen.
NOTES: Early in the first period, the Pirates found themselves down to 16 skaters, as Cliff Loya would leave the game after taking a hit to his left knee. Dineen said that it wasn’t good news, as he would be out for an extended period of time. Loya was on crutches and would be evaluated in Buffalo when the team arrived on Monday. The Pirates were also without Dylan Hunter, who was dealing with the flu. Hunter played in one game since coming back from a concussion that forced him to miss eight games. One piece of good news was Nathan Gerbe returned to the Pirates lineup after missing seven games with a concussion. He would be credited with an assists on the Mancari’s goal in the second period.