Portland could very well be playing down as many as three players tonight when they face the defending Calder Cup champions, the Hershey Bears. The Pirates took to the ice this morning’s skate without the services of Mark Parrish and Luke Adam, who were both recalled to the Sabres this morning.
Portland was already without leading scorer Mark Mancari.
Adam had worked himself back into AHL rookie of the year contention with 21 goals, 21 assists for 42 points in 40 games and held a team-best plus-20 rating. This is his fourth recall of the season to the Sabres.
This is the first recall of the season for Parrish, who has been on a three-game point scoring streak with two goals, seven assists for nine points as the Pirates had little trouble in creating offense, outscoring their last three opponents, 20-6.
Tonight’s opponent is a little different.
The Hershey Bears have the third best road record in the AHL and have one of the stingier defenses on the road, allowing 2.61 goals per game.
“It’s nice to get out of division for a game,” said Pirates coach Kevin Dineen. “It will be a challenge for us given that Hershey is always one of the top contenders in the league and are doing it again this year.”
Matt Ellis, Alex Biega, Dennis Persson and Travis Turnbull all continue to practice, but Dineen wouldn’t commit to their return tonight, or even if a player or two would be brought in to help fill the roster, which currently stands at 16 healthy skaters.
“We’ll see how (things) play out over the course of the day,” he said. “It’s always a challenge when we get call ups late in the day, but that’s what we’re here for.”
“We’ll get a feel where (the injured players) are today and get a sense of the time table where they’re at.”
Ellis confirmed that he wasn’t ready as he battles a groin injury.
“Definitely taking some steps forward,” said Ellis. “It’s day-to-day right now. I’m still not feeling 100%. The mobility is there, but I still have a few issues that need to be worked out.”
David Leggio will go tonight for Portland, while Nolan Schaefer, who was recently acquired on loan from the Boston Bruins, will start of the Bears.
The Pirates released their Clear Day roster for the remainder of the season.
The roster contains 22 players who are under contract to either the Buffalo Sabres or Portland Pirates. Only those players listed on the roster can compete for the rest of this season and the playoffs, however, there is also wiggle room because of injury, recalls or suspension.
The Pirates have a lot of wiggle room.
Of the 22 players on the Clear Day roster, nine players are currently with the Sabres or dealing with injuries, giving Dineen a great amount of latitude is putting the roster together for the remainder of the season.
That said, Dineen said this was one of the more difficult roster to put together because of the injury, recalls and overall play of the team.
“This year, we’ve got a bucket load of injuries and that gives us some different options,” said Dineen. “The unique thing we have now. We have so many kids that been called up this year that were playing in our lineup full time. That’s where the challenge was.”
Forward Jacob Lagace was left off the clear day roster, which wasn’t much of a shock. The 21-year old forward, a fifth round pick of the Sabres in 2008, hasn’t always endeared himself to Dineen resulting a wakeup call of sorts with a demotion to the ECHL. In 13 games with Greenville (S.C.), he posted six assists and came back to Portland with a much better outlook.
In his 10 games back with Pirates, he’s scored four goals, one assist for five points with a plus-4 rating.
CLEAR DAY ROSTER:
GOALTENDERS: Jhonas Enroth, David Leggio
SKATERS: Luke Adam, Alex Biega, T.J. Brennan, Paul Byron, Tim Conboy, Nick Crawford, Matt Ellis, Igor Gongalsky, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Maxime Legault, Mark Mancari, Dennis McCauley, Mark Parrish, Dennis Persson, Brian Roloff, Drew Schiestel, Colin Stuart, Corey Tropp, Travis Turnbull and Derek Whitmore
The Sabres have kept Jhonas Enroth around a little longer that many in Pirateland would have expected. Enroth was called up last Friday and it was expect that he might play against the Philadelphia Flyers, but instead suited up against Minnesota.
Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News said that Enroth wasn’t sent down so the Sabres don’t use one of their three remaining recalls as he’s expected to play again this week either Saturday in Toronto or Sunday at HSBC Arena against the Ottawa Senators.