The All Star break couldn’t come at a better time for the Portland Pirates.
Beaten and battered, the Pirates found a way to find a victory as Derek Whitmore scored with less than 10 seconds left in the game for a 3-2 win over the Connecticut Whale in front of 10,872 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn on Saturday night.
The Pirates, finishing a stretch of seven games in 11 days where they went 5-2-0, were without Brian Roloff (concussion), Travis Turnbull (shoulder), Drew Schiestel (undisclosed) and Marc-Andre Gragnani (undisclosed), who was listed as a scratch after taking a hit in Friday’s games in Providence.
They also lost TJ Brennan and Max Leagult during the game without unknown injuries.
Dale Weise took an interference penalty with 1:38 to play in the game, giving the Pirates only their third power play of the game.
Portland found a way to capitalize as Whitmore, sitting in the right spot at the right time, took a cross-ice feed from Corey Tropp, firing a laser past Connecticut Whale netminder Chad Johnson with only 7.5 seconds left in regulation.
Since returning from Christmas break, the Pirates have gone 12-4-2 to surge back up the standings, only one point behind Atlantic Division leader Manchester Monarchs, with two games in hand.
Pirates’ rookie defenseman Nick Crawford scored two points (1g, 1a) on the night including the opening goal of the game at the 3:02 mark of the first period.
On a play set up by Mark Parrish, Crawford took a feed from the corner, ripping a slap shot on net, beating Johnson to give Portland a 1-0 lead. Justin Bowers was credited with the other assist on the play.
At 5:25, Justin Williams found the back of the net, beating Pirates’ goalkeeper David Leggio to tie the game at 1-1.
Leggio made several point blank saves as part of his 36 stops on the night to earn win no. 13 (13-4-0) of the season.
After a scoreless second period, both teams traded power play goals, setting the stage for Whitmore to score his 19th goal of the season.
With a carryover penalty in the start of the third period, Matt Ellis rang a shot of the crossbar and into the net past Johnson only 59 seconds into the period. Corey Tropp and Luke Adam recorded assists on the play.
Brodie DuPont scored for the Whale to tie the game for a second time as Tim Conboy, back in the lineup after serving a two-game suspension – was serving a roughing penalty at 12:04 of the third period.
The Pirates will now have a week off before returning to the Cumberland County Civic Center to face off once again against the Connecticut Whale.
NOTES: Pirates forward Mark Mancari had his 13 game point streak snapped after being held off the scoresheet.