The Portland Pirates have lost their top two scorers and may potentially be without their leading rookie when they hit the ice Tuesday night against the Providence Bruins.
The Buffalo Sabres recalled forward Mark Mancari and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani Sunday evening as the Sabres continue their push for a playoff spot in the NHL.
Gragnani’s recall to Buffalo was prompted by the loss of defenseman Jordan Leopold to a broken hand and Tyler Myers dealing with rash-like symptoms from medication he was taking for the flu.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff addressed the media after this morning’s skate and talked about the reasons for bringing up Gragnani including his versatility on the blueline and ability to play forward.
“It’s easier to have an extra defenseman here and (Gragnani) has played some forward,” Ruff said. “Having an extra forward makes it tougher because they can’t play defense.”
“We want to make sure we don’t get caught with not having another body available.”
Gragnani has had a lights outs season with the Pirates, scoring 12 goals, 48 assists for 60 points in 63 games.
Gragnani broke franchise records for both the most points by a defenseman in a season and most assists by a defenseman in a season. Gragnani is also receiving strong consideration for the Eddie Shore Award for outstanding defenseman in the AHL.
For Mancari, he is back with the Sabres on emergency recall because Mike Grier is dealing with some knee soreness.
Ruff didn’t expect Grier to miss any time as the Sabres travel to Toronto for a game against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
Mancari, who was originally recalled from Portland back on Mar. 10, remained with the Sabres after they assigned him to Portland last Saturday.
Sabres GM Darcy Regier indicated that with the return of forward Jochen Hecht from injury Mancari’s recall no longer qualified as an emergency so they were considering their options if they wanted to use one of four recalls available to the team or assign him back to Portland.
Mancari has been one of the top scorers in the AHL this season, scoring 32 goals, 32 assists in 64 games.
In 13 games with the Sabres, Mancari has a goal and five assists for six
The loss of Gragnani, Mancari and Luke Adam, who is still dealing with issues from a bruised sternum and will be a game time decision, leaves the Pirates shorthanded once again. Forward Travis Turnbull is practicing with the team, but has yet to be cleared for contact and is still couple weeks away.
According to Sabres Director of Public Relations Mike Gilbert there is word yet on if any of the available players eligible to sign an ATO with the Pirates have done so. Kamloops defenseman Corey Fienhage along with Bowling Green goaltender Nick Eno and Miami University goalie Connor Knapp are options for the Sabres at this point. Knapp was the backup for Miami this past weekend for Northeast Regional Semifinals of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, losing 3-1 to the University of New Hampshire in Manchester, NH.
The American Hockey League announced this afternoon the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year Award winners for all 30 member clubs. Forward Derek Whitmore was named the winner of the AHL Man of the Year award representing the Pirates for the second straight season. From the 30 finalist, the AHL will choose one to be the winner of the Yanick Dupre award for outstanding contributions to the local community and charitable organizations during the 2010-‘11 season. Joining Whitmore are five other former Pirates including Matt Keith (Abbotsford), Greg Amadio (Grand Rapids), Nolan Baumgartner (Manitoba), Trent Whitfield (Providence) and Paul Baier (Rochester).
Playoff strips for the 2011 Portland Pirates Playoff Hockey, MISSION: 16W, powered by Time Warner Cable are currently on sale. Playoff strips are only available to existing 2010-11 full, half or mini ticket package holders or those who have committed to a full, half or mini ticket package for 2011-‘12.
A $50 deposit per seat reserves your seat locations for all four potential rounds of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs and ensures the best possible seats for the playoffs at big savings. Playoff strips also eliminate the need to wait in long Box Office lines or pay any additional fees.
For more information contact the Portland Pirates or checkout their website.