The Portland Pirates are finally starting to come together on ice as two more bodies were on the ice this morning.
Mark Parrish and Jhonas Enroth took part in morning practice at the Cumberland County Civic Center, which was bristling with activity in anticipation of Saturday’s game against Manchester.
Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen was more than pleased to finally be on Civic Center ice after spending the last several days at Portland Ice Arena.
“We’re really excited,” said Dineen. “(Civic Center GM) Steven Crane and his crew did a fantastic job, rushing to get the ice ready for today. They certainly deserve lunch on (Dineen) today.”
And, he wasn’t kidding either as once practice was over, Dineen hand delivered pizza and beverage to the Civic Center crew.
As for the on-ice activity, Derek Whitmore was back on the ice today, taking part in full practice after leaving the ice early yesterday with what looked like at the time a serious knee injury. The Pirates only skated with five defensemen as TJ Brennan missed today with what Dineen indicated as an illness.
For Mark Parrish, he’s just happy to have a job with the season around the corner and is excited to be coming to Portland.
One of the reasons why the 33-year old signed with the Sabres, even if it meant coming to Portland, was the quality of the organization and the impression left on Parrish during training camp in Buffalo.
“They (Buffalo) have a solid foundation,” said Parrish. “It was a great experience to be there.”
Parrish wants to make an early impression on the coaching staff by working hard and accepting whatever role that he’s give on the team, which will most likely be scoring goal based on line combinations.
Portland mixed up lines again today with the addition of Parrish.
Lagace wore the baby blue jersey as he recovers from an injury to his right knee.
Defensive pairings haven’t changed, with the lone exception being Schiestel, skating in Brennan’s place with Biega and with Persson.
That’s says a lot about what Dineen thinks of Schiestel, giving him the responsibility of guiding rookie Alex Biega, and Dennis Persson, who has struggle most of training camp in Buffalo and Portland.
*****************Matt Ellis should arrive today and be on the ice tomorrow. It will be interesting where he slots into the lineup. He’s someone who is projected as a potential captain of the team, and he would fit in nicely with Parrish and Adam on the first line.
Dineen has said that more than one player is on the bubble right now, which makes you wonder if Tropp, Turnbull, Roloff, Schutz and Legault aren’t practicing for a job.
It pretty much a safe bet that Legault has earned a spot on the roster for opening night after Dineen’s high praise for the St. Agathe, Quebec native.
“He’s the one guy in the last two or three weeks that looks like he understands that he’s playing for a job,” said Dineen. “He working hard and has really matured from last season.”
Speaking of the captaincy, Dineen said that a captain won’t be decided for this weekend, and as in years past the players will have vote, but the final decision will rest with Dineen.
With the addition of Enroth, Alex Petizian was released was his tryout. The St. Lawrence grad played exceptionally well in his portion of the exhibition game on Tuesday night, stopping all 12 shots he faced.