In the first game of 2011 for the Portland Pirates, they began the year the same way they finished 2010.
With a loss.
Matt Irwin scored in the closing seconds of the game to give the Worcester Sharks a 3-2 victory over the Pirates in front of 3,550 at the DCU Center on Sunday afternoon.
The Pirates worked hard in the third period to overcome a two-goal deficit, starting with a goal by Corey Tropp midway into the period.
Tropp picked up the puck deep along the endboards and rushed the net, beating Sharks’ netminder Alex Stalock with a wraparound shot to ruin the shutout bid at the 8:15 mark of the period.
At 14:16, the Pirates tied the game at 2-2 when Derek Whitmore scored his 11th goal of the season with an unassisted shot as he banked the puck off Stalock into the net after he flubbed the clearing attempt from behind the net.
With only 1:32 to play in the game, Alex Biega was whistled for a holding call that the Pirates were clearly not happy with.
Sharks’ defenseman Justin Braun fired a slapshot on net that was blocked by the bodies in front of the net as Irwin spotted it, sending a quick wrister by Pirates’ goalie David Leggio with just 3.3 seconds left on the clock.
It was the third consecutive game the Pirates has surrendered the game-winning goal while shorthanded as they’ve dropped six of their last seven games (1-3-3) and have a 4-8-3-1 record in their last 16 games, falling to third place in the Atlantic Division only two points from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in fifth place.
Leggio made 27 saves on 30 shots in the loss, while Stalock staved off disaster with the gaffe in the third period to make 28 saves, improving to 15-13-2 on the season.
NOTES: This was the 11th time this season Portland has allowed a goal in the final minute of play.