Portland, ME – After losing a two-goal lead in the closing minute of the third period, Mark Mancari scored the game-winning goal in OT to give the Portland Pirates a 3-2 victory over the Lowell Devils before 3,409 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.The Pirates improved to 4-7-0 on the season and 3-0-0 at the Cumberland County Civic Center after starting their season with only one win on the road.
Portland opened the scoring midway into the first period when TJ Brennan fired a bullet from the left point into a crowd of bodies where Derek Whitmore managed to get a piece of the puck, redirecting the shot between the legs of Devils’ goalie Jeff Frazee, giving Portland a 1-0 lead at 13:19 of the period.
Just 1:36 later, Portland made it 2-0 when Kyle Wanvig scored his second goal of the season at 14:55 of the first period.
Tyler Ennis skating near the top crease, created a turnover, drawing Frazee out of the position before dishing the puck to Wanvig, who was alone in the left face-off circle.
Wanvig snapped a quick shot into an open net with Frazee out of position.
At 17:39, Lowell cut the lead in half, 2-1, when Pirates’ forward Kyle Wanvig turned the puck over to Louis Robitaille, at right hash-mark, and ripped a shot over the shoulder of Pirates’ netminder Jhonas Enroth.
“Our (defense) is under siege right now, they’re seeing a lot of guys come extremely hard at them and it’s hard to help them,” said Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen. “They are going to have to go back there and man-up and start making plays under pressure.”
Both teams were scoreless in the second period and it looked like Portland might hold on for a 2-1 win, but with 1:05 left in the game, Stephen Gionta found the back of the net, tying the game at 2-2.
“There’s a lot to learn out there,” said Dineen. “We understand what our situation is. We have a lot of pressure on players, not from above or coaching staff. It’s the pressure that teams are coming hard at us and we’ve got to respond.”
The Pirates carried the majority of the overtime period, outshooting Lowell 4-0, thanks in large part to a hooking penalty by Tyler Eckford at 2:48 of the period.
Ennis carried the puck around a Devils’ defender, spotting Mancari in the right face-off circle, who sent a shovel shot into the net with 14 seconds left in the extra session.
“They gave it to us the last five minutes of the game, said Mark Mancari. “We were scrambling and not playing our game. Once they tied it, we said we can’t worry about tomorrow and put everything on the table today and start winning games.”
Nathan Gerbe had two assists along with Ennis, who netted a pair of points in the Pirates win.
Jhonas Enroth made 36 saves for the win, while Jeff Frazee stopped 17 of 20 he faced on the night.
NOTES: Dineen didn’t seem to optimistic that Pirates’ defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani would be available this weekend. Gragnani suffered an upper-body injury last weekend in Norfolk and tried to practice with this week, but to no avail. The Pirates were also without Paul Byron (upper-body contusion), Dennis Persson (concussion), Brad Larsen (left foot fracture) and Cody McCormick (suspension) as a result they have signed Han Benson to a PTO. Dineen was very pleased with his effort tonight.
“I’d liked him. I liked him a lot in Springfield and with Paul Byron going out of the lineup a hole opened up and (while) Benson is not a similar player, we felt that we could fill internally and I liked the way he played.”