Portland, ME –Fans of the Portland Pirates hope that defenseman Dean Arsene can bring a little magic with him from his time with Hershey Bears.
Arsene, who spent six seasons in Hershey, was a member of the Bears during the 2005-‘06 season when they battled the Pirates in an epic seven-game series that many thought would decide the eventual winner of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup.
The Bears went onto win the series, and later the Cup against Milwaukee, as Eric Fehr scored midway into the first overtime period.
“It was a series that had everything,” he said. “It had the superstars, who went on to have great NHL careers with both teams. It had overtime games, last minute comebacks, fighting and just a ton of raw emotion from the players and the fans in both building.”
“It was just a classic playoff series.”Arsene played a vital role during that playoff run as well as at the same he playing hurt.
“(Hershey) was hurting badly, both teams were, but we were just wasted. I was playing with broken ribs and we had several guys with separated shoulders in that series, but nobody wanted to miss any time.”
It’s that character as well as his ability to be a leader on the ice that attracted the Coyotes to Arsene.
“That’s what we wanted,” said Pirates coach Ray Edwards. “He’s a player that can lead on the ice and help calm a team down when they get rattled. You’ve seen that throughout his career and big reason why he’s been a captain everywhere he’s played.”
The Coyotes had been looking to sign the Murrayville, British Columbia native since last season, but due to veteran rules they couldn’t get a deal done until free agency this summer.
“I knew they had interest in me,” he said. We couldn’t get something done, but I made sure to stay in touch this summer and it was great to get something done as soon as we did.”
That series during the 2006 AHL playoffs between Portland and Hershey had a plot with more twist and turns than an Alfred Hitchcock novel.
With the Pirates down 3-1 in the series, and both sides dealing with numerous injuries , they’d come back to win Games 5 and 6 in Portland, sending it to a winner take all Game 7.
In between, you had former Pirates coach Kevin Dineen and former Bears coach Bruce Boudreau involved in a yelling match during a practice session at Hersheypark Arena, and the crowds in both cities were as hostile toward each as one could imagine.
Ask Dineen about that series and he’ll tell you that Portland should have had Game 7 on Civic Center ice and if they did, they would have won. Arsene will offer up a different point a view.
“It was a series that had everything, but if (Hershey) had a 2-3-2 with those three games at home, it would have been a different outcome,” he said. “Game 7 might have never taken place because we were rolling up until Game 5, but I wouldn’t change anything because the series was just amazing.”
During that famous Game 7, the Pirates held leads of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 before Graham Mink came back to tie the game with 2:09 to play in regulation. In overtime, Portland had a glorious opportunity to put the game away as Ryan Getzlaf, who was assigned by Anaheim prior to the game along with Dustin Penner and Corey Perry, put a sure thing – at least in Arsene’s eyes – off the side of the net.
A short time later, it Fehr’s goal, which left the Pirates stinging, and the Bears one step closer to drinking out of the Calder Cup.
“I was on the ice for both plays,” Arsene said. “It was a simple play and the puck just deflected right to Getzlaf (for the breakaway) and I was sure this (game) was over. I let out a big sigh when I noticed he put (the puck) off the side of the net. I couldn’t believe my own eyes. I wasn’t that much longer when (Eric) Fehr put a shot of the post into the net.”
Maybe the next time Arsene drinks out of the Calder Cup it will be in a Portland Pirates uniform.
Phoenix Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving said they will begin to discuss potential roster cuts on Wednesday. Any moves will depend on what the Coyotes do over the next couple of days.
Pirates coach Ray Edwards said prior to practice that he expected as many as six players to be reassigned to Portland over the next three or four days as the Coyotes pare down their roster.
Edwards said he like the pace of practice on Wednesday, but called the scrimmage “sloppy” noting that players weren’t focused on the details. The intensity was certainly evident as there was a pair scrums during the forty minute scrimmage.
Chris Clackson and Tyler Eckford took part in the first one and Igor Gongalsky and Tyler Murovich involved in the second fight.