Portland, ME – It was more than a victory for the Portland Pirates.
It was boost to the Pirates morale as they held on for a 2-1 win over the Worcester Sharks in front of 3,603 at the DCU Center on Friday night.
The Pirates were winless in their last five games as the road began to carry a certain stench… The guys were desperate for a win.
“We needed this,” said Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen. “We needed a win on the road. We’ve gone a long time where it hadn’t come together for us. There have been some good efforts and there have been some stinkers along the way too.”
“We really appreciate going home with a win like this.”
The win extended the Pirates lead over Worcester to five points, however, Lowell with their 3-2 win over Springfield, sits in fourth place, only three points back of Portland.
“We can’t let up because we still have teams chasing us from behind,” said Dineen. “We need to keep our eye on those teams in front of us that we can still catch.”
Portland opened the scoring midway into the first period as Tim Kennedy scored his 13th goal of the season.
Kennedy, back in the lineup from a lower-body injury, followed up the play by Marek Zagrapan, stuffing the puck past Sharks’ goalie Thomas Greiss at 13:47 of the period.
“(Worcester) just let up,” Kennedy said. (Zagrapan) had a breakaway and I think everybody thought he scored and when I saw the puck (in the crease) I just pounced on it.”
“I was surprised nobody was around me.”
After a scoreless second period, the Sharks tied the game, 1-1, on a goal by Ryan Vesce as he picked up the rebound from Lukas Kaspar’s shot and beat Pirates’ netminder Kellen Briggs.
Briggs, making his second start in as many games, was signed to a PTO by the Pirates and played stellar in net as he made 28 saves in the victory.
“It’s not my scouting ability as much as it is your relationships throughout the league,” said Dineen. “He’s just not a body we pulled into the team because we need somebody. We wanted to make sure we got the right body, here.”
After losing his first match, 3-2, Briggs was much more comfortable in net, despite only spending about 10 hours in the city of Portland.
At 5:12, the Pirates regained the lead as Nathan Gerbe finished on a dynamic play by Kennedy.
Kennedy, in the slot, circle around and spotted Gerbe, who redirected the puck by Greiss as the Pirates took a 2-1 lead, a lead they’d never give up.
“He seems to take a hard lick every night and that’s was a real gutsy effort by him,” said Dineen. “It was a really good game by him in a lot of different ways.”
NOTES: Kennedy was a game time decision tonight as Dineen indicated that if Zach Tarkir could have played, Kennedy would have most likely sat tonight. Speaking of Tarkir, he missed the game due to a lower body injury and Dineen said he was day-to-day. The Pirates released Rob Lemelin from his PTO as they signed Jeff Jakaitis from the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL.