The Portland Pirates were skating at Portland Ice Arena this morning where they held practice as they prepare for a pair of games this weekend against Lowell and Bridgeport.
Portland is looking to make a jump in the standings – currently last place in the Atlantic Division (3-7-0) with six points – and returning to the Civic Center couldn’t have come at a better time. After playing eight of their first 10 games of the season on the road, Portland is more than ready to enjoy some home cooking.
They will have to do it without the services of Paul Byron, Dennis Persson and Brad Larsen, who are expected to be out at least the weekend and in the case of Persson and Larsen, it could be longer.
Persson suffer a hit to the head in Providence and has been sidelined since with concussion-like symptoms. The Pirates and their NHL parent club, the Buffalo Sabres both have a history of players who have dealt with concussions. Last year, Mike Funk, Mike Card and Dylan Hunter all dealt with long-term symptoms from hits to the head and for Funk and Card, it ended their season.
Larsen, who hasn’t played in game action since Oct. 10, is dealing with a stress fracture to his left foot. It happened while blocking a shot during Portland’s 4-2 win against the Bruins. He’s attempted to skate on it, but it’s been too painful, as a result he will be out for at least four more weeks.
With Bryon, Persson and Larsen out of the lineup, as well, as McCormick, who is serving the remainder of his five-game suspension this weekend, Pirates’ head coach has been forced to shuffle his lines.
There was no sign Marc-Andre Gragnani at practice today as Dineen said he was taking a maintenance day, but indicated he will be ready for tomorrow, most likely playing in McCormick’s position at wing.