Portland, ME – This was about as ugly of a loss that the Portland Pirates have endured this season.
To make matters worse it was on home ice where the Pirates have lost four straight games as the Manchester Monarchs scored twice in the first period and added three goals in the third period for a 5-2 victory before a sellout crowd (6,749) at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“We didn’t respond,” said Pirates coach Ray Edwards to the third period collapse. “It’s disappointing that we responded that way on home ice. We’ve lost four games at home. That’s ridiculous. That’s not acceptable.”The Pirates found themselves down 2-0 after a pair of first period goals by the Monarchs, but came back in the second to tie the game at 2-2.
Portland is 1-4-1 when giving up the first goal of the game.
With 14 second left in Andrei Loktionov’s tripping penalty, Ryan Duncan put the Pirates on the board at 3:18 of the second period, rushing up the ice, snapping a shot from the left circle that beat Monarchs’ goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, who was making first start against the Pirates this season.
Shortly after the Monarchs killed of an extended five-on-three for 1:31, the Pirates tied the game at 2-2 when Ashton Rome scored his second goal of the year with a rising shot from the top of the left circle at the midway point of the second period.
Portland controlled the second period, outshooting the Monarchs nearly 2-to-1, before shots leveled out at 11-7 for the period.
The third period was a completely different story as the Pirates collapsed leaving Edwards perplexed at what he witnessed, but made certain it will be dealt with.
“I thought the first two periods we were ok,” he said. “We weren’t great, but we got the back to get into the game, but the third period we were disgusting. It was really bad. I’m shocked we came out that way in the third period. It was disappointing. It was shocking. That’s unacceptable. We’ll deal with that.”
Former Maineiac Marc-Andre Cliché started the scoring in the third period by getting to a goalmouth scramble, putting the backhander by Pirates’ netminder Curtis McElhinney just three minutes into the period.
At 14:20, the Monarchs made it 4-2 when Richard Clune took a pass from Andrew Campbell after intercepting a poor pass by the Pirates defense, rushing up the ice and beating McElhinney with a deke to the backhand.
Jordan Hill finished off the scoring with an empty-net goal with 1:51 left in the game.
“That’s not the way we play,” said Edwards. “We stopped working. We stop doing everything. We stood around and watched them play. We got away from our structure, we tried to do everything ourselves. We turned pucks over. We fell apart from the drop of the puck (to start the period).”
Manchester opened the scoring in the game on the power play as Linden Vey picked the upper right corner with a shot inside the right circle, beating McElhinney.
Less than four minutes later, the Monarchs struck again as Dwight King finished off a three-on-two break from the slot connecting on a cross-ice pass from below the right circle from rookie Robert Czarnik.
“We’ve given up the first goal,” said Edwards. “We’ve given up five goals like tonight. We are not where we need to be.”
“We’re dealing with what we have here and what we have here (expletive) didn’t work tonight.”
NOTES: The Pirates received some defensive help as the Coyotes assigned defenseman Chris Summers. Summers played his first game for the Pirates on Civic Center after being assigned by the team earlier in the day by the Coyotes…. Summers played one game for Portland in the season opener in Bridgeport… Former Coyotes prospect Brett MacLean was placed on waivers by the Winnipeg Jets, the team who claimed MacLean on waivers prior to the start of the season. If MacLean clears waivers, the Coyotes would have the option of taking him back and placing him in Portland. Edwards was non-committal about the transaction, but hint that it’s a possibility… Edwards was also non-committal about the return of Andy Miele after the Coyotes acquired forward Cal O’Reilly from the Nashville Predators. Edwards said that Phoenix will take care of the things in the coming days… Forward Igor Gongalsky missed his second game because of a suspension for an elbowing incident against the Providence Bruins last Saturday.