Portland, ME – The Pirates were back down to business on Tuesday as they hit the ice in preparation of Wednesday’s game in Springfield. Portland will be looking to avenge the 6-2 loss they suffered at the MassMutual Center back on Oct. 22nd where they allowed a franchise tying five goals in the third period.
Speaking of the Falcons… This is not the same team of years past. A new affiliation with Columbus has brought some spirited youth and cagey veterans in hopes of injected some life to a market that’s in serious need of an infusion if they are going to survive past this season.
So far… The numbers at the gate haven’t been great, but they haven’t been terrible considering the economy of the region.
On the ice, the Falcons have been on a roll as of late, earning a point in five of their last six games (5-1-0-1) and three of their last four games on home ice, including their last two games.
It’s a much more talented team led by Tom Sestito, Michael Blunden and Chad Kolarik.
Sestito, the team’s leading scorer, has registered at least one point in eight of the team’s 10 games in October. Blunden is currently leading the team in goals with seven on the season.
The Falcons recently acquired former Sabres’ prospect and 2009 AHL All-Star Michael Ryan, who signed with the club back on Oct. 24. He recorded his first two points with the Falcons last Wednesday, a 6-5 OT loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Springfield is averaging nearly 3.17 goals a game on offense, while being one of the tighter defenses in the American Hockey League at 2.75 goals allowed.
For Portland, it hasn’t been a problem scoring goals. They currently lead the AHL while scoring on average nearly four goals per game. It’s the other side of the equation that’s been a concern for the Pirates where they’ve allowed almost 3.50 goals per game this season, which is second to last in the AHL.
That’s playing with fire and their bound to get burned sooner than later. All teams hit a dry patch when it comes to scoring and it’s the teams who have solid defense that can weather the storm.
No changes were made to the lineup in practice today. Defenseman Dennis Persson didn’t skate today with what Dineen termed as a maintenance day (make sure to check out the upcoming story on MHJ about Persson).
He was out and about, riding the bike, and doing other off-ice workouts.
Lines in practice
UPDATE: There was no word on anybody from Buffalo getting sent down in time for tomorrow night’s game. A lot will depend on the health of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on whether if Enroth will be returned. (Don’t expect Enroth back for sometime… Just as Ryan Miller is getting close to returning, news came out of Buffalo is that backup goaltender Patrick Lalime may be dealing with a possible appendicitis. He was being checked out by doctors today.)
It’s not expected that Portland will see Matt Ellis for some time, although the thought is out there that if Ellis continues to work as hard as he has been, it might be Gerbe seeing time in a Pirates uniform.
The Pirates will practice tomorrow morning before heading to Springfield in the afternoon.
Make sure to check out MHJ tomorrow night as we will be holding a Live Game Chat starting at 6:30pm… We’ll be chatting about the game, the players and we’ll be here to answer any questions you might have about the Pirates or anything going on with the state of hockey in Maine.