Bridgeport, CT – On the day when much of the discussion about the Portland Pirates was on their future in Portland, they were in Bridgeport, Connecticut beginning a three-game road trip through Connecticut and Upstate New York.
It didn’t get off to the start the Pirates had hoped as Trevor Smith scored a pair of goals for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers including the game-winner in the third period to give them a 5-4 win over the Pirates in front of 3,819 at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Friday night.
“It was probably the sloppiest hockey game all year by both sides,” said Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen. “It wasn’t a very good game and the team who made the least amount of mistakes ended up winning the hockey game.”
With all the news generated in the local media over the last several days, the Pirates thought they’d enjoyed the opportunity to leave town, getting away from the outside news away from the hockey team.
Especially for a team that has record of 30-8-5-3 in since beginning their season, 5-10-0-0
“We try to prepare for every game,” said Pirates’ defenseman Mike Kostka. “It’s really out of our control. We have to try to forget about what we can’t control and control what we can.”
It was also the Pirates first game since finishing a brutal eight game stretch in 10-days, and it looked as such with the Sound Tigers opening the scoring early in the first period.
Smith, crashing the net, beat JP Lamoureux to give Bridgeport a 1-0 lead at 1:29 of the period.
“Our start was horrendous,” said Dineen. “It was such a mish-mash of bodies running out there and turnovers.”
At 4:25, the Pirates tied the game at 1-1 when defenseman Mike Weber fired a blast from the slot, beating Nathan Lawson on the inside post.
Both teams traded goals within a five minute span in the first period, as Tomas Marcinko scored at 8:19 followed by Nathan Gerbe, who scored on the backhand at 13:15 of the first period.
The Sound Tigers regained the lead in the second period when Matt Martin finished off a cross-ice pass from Jesse Joensuu, taping the puck by Lamoureux for the power play goal just 1:27 into period.
At 4:44, the Pirates came back for the third time, tying the game at 3-3 after Marc Andre Gragnani scored his 10 goal of the season. In his last seven games, he’s scored five goals, three assists for eight points.
Philip Gogulla gave the Pirates their first lead of the night, 4-3, after finishing off a poor clearing attempt by Bridgeport with a slap shot from between the hash marks at 12:57 of the second period.
With Portland on a power play, Bridgeport bounced back in the third period as Mike Radja broke through on a breakaway, snapping a shot by Lamoureux at 5:33 of the period.
Smith scored his second of the night at 11:36 when Tyler Haskins, spun around along the right half boards, centering a pass to Smith for the easy tap-in to give Bridgeport a 5-4 lead.
“We had moments here and there on playing how we wanted too, but we‘ve got to play for a full 60 minutes,” said Mike Kostka. “We can’t just play five minutes here and five minutes there.”
NOTES: Former Pirate Brendan Witt was in the lineup for the Sound Tigers after he was assigned to the team back in late January. Witt, a 14 year NHL veteran playing 890 games in the NHL, spent part of the 1996-‘97 season with the Pirates.