It was lightened mood as the Pirates took to the ice for their later than normal practice at the Cumberland County Civic Center in preparation for Game 6 on Friday night.
That doesn’t mean the Pirates are taking the Binghamton Senators lightly has they still hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Pirates know they have their backs to the wall.
Forward Mark Mancari, who recorded two goals, two assists in Game 4 was pretty simple on the mindset of what the Pirates need to do.
“To win,” he said succinctly. “Find any way possible to win the game. Our backs are against the wall. We have to dig deep. We can’t afford to make a mistake.”
“You lose… you’re out. You’re going home and every guy has played with desperation with the mentality that we don’t want to go home. If we come out and play hard good things will happen. We can’t afford to play like we did in Game 4.”
“Everyone here wants to win a Calder Cup. Right now, we can afford to lose a game. If we lose a game, we go home. We’re going to come out give it everything we have and hopefully good things will happen.”
The Pirates are 10-2 all-time in Game Six and haven’t been eliminated on home ice since 2003 when they lost to the Manitoba Moose in a qualifying round.
Most of the Pirates were on the ice. Matt Ellis-Luke Adam-Matt Mancari remained together on the top line. The second line also remained the same with Mark Parrish-Paul Byron-Colin Stuart. Derek Whitmore-Mark Voakes-Cory Tropp and Igor Gongalsky-Travis Turnbull-Maxime Legault made up the third and fourth lines in practice. TJ Brennan was back on the ice skating on a regular shift with Brian O’Hanley since missing seven games with a leg injury suffered in Game 4 of the Atlantic Division semifinal. Other b
lueline pairs were Dennis Persson-Alex Biega and Nick Crawford-Tim Conboy.
Dennis McCauley, Jacob Lagace and Corey Fienhage skated as extras.
McCauley is still nursing a shoulder injury and is listed day-to-day.
Missing from practice was Zack Kassian. Dineen was coy on why he was missing, but according to Joy Lindsey of the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin. Kassian limped off the ice after a collision behind the net late in the third period in Game 4 and didn’t return.
Also, missing from the lineup was Jeff Dimmen, Brian Roloff and Shaw Szydlowski.
One surprise was the return of defenseman Drew Schiestel after missing nearly three months because of an injury to his right knee. Schiestel is still not skating as he recovers from surgery, but Dineen said that he’s rehabbing every day and “IF” the Pirates should make it to the next round Schiestel could be available for the Calder Cup Finals.
“We want him to work as hard as he can to get himself ready to go and give himself an option to return,” said Dineen.
The Binghamton Senators might have caught a bad break… literally.
Kaspars Daugavins, who has five goals, one assist in series, went down awkwardly during practice along the boards and was holding his left wrist in a fair amount of pain. It didn’t look good.
He was helped off the ice by Sens trainer Glen Kinney. Daugavins returned, but only last five minutes before he left again as he looked to be severe discomfort handling the stick.
The Sens will get a boost in the lineup as Ottawa’s 2009 first round draft pick, Jared Cowen, signed an ATO with the team on Thursday after his season with the Spokane Chiefs came to a close. In 58 games, Cowen scored 18 goals, 30 assists for 48 points with a plus-44 rating.