The Portland Pirates were left frustrated as the Monarchs outworked them to a 2-1 victory before 5,573 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“I’m really disappointed in our effort,” said Pirates’ coach Ray Edwards. “I was very disappointed in how we handled our emotions, the way we handled the game. We didn’t react well.”
It was the Pirates first game back at the Civic Center since Nov. 25, a 4-3OT win, against the Worcester Sharks.
Manchester dominated the play in the first period.
“Give (Manchester) a lot of credit,” said Edwards. “They played a really good team game. They frustrated our guys. We took bad penalties and it was like ‘who the hell are they to come in here and play like this’ to us.”
Dwight King put the Monarchs up 1-0, taking a feed from Jake Muzzin in the right circle and snapping a shot from the left faceoff dot, beating a sprawled out Curtis McElhinney at 5:13 of the first period.
Twice, the Pirates thought they tied the game only to have the goal disallowed.
The first time was at the 11:18 mark of the first period when a scrum ensued around the Monarchs’ net and Ashton Rome tapped the loose puck by goalie Jeff Zatkoff, but the officials whistled Matt Watkins for goaltender interference.
It was déjà vu about six minutes into the second period when the Pirates had its second goal disallowed as a player from Manchester knocked the net off the moorings prior to the goal crossing the line.
“The first (goal) was tough because I didn’t get a good look at it,” said Edwards. But, we didn’t handle it the right way. The second one definitely should have been a goal. It’s a tough break, but again those things happen in a game. You’re going to have times in the game when the calls don’t go your way and we didn’t handle the situation very well.”
The Pirates finally broke through with a power-play goal by Patrick O’Sullivan at the 10:13 mark of the second period, snapping a shot from the left circle by Zatkoff to tie the game at 1.
At 7:53, the Monarchs struck with a power-play goal of its’ own in the third period when Patrick Mullen ripped a shot from the blueline that hit the post and beat McElhinney to put the Monarchs up for good, 2-1.
The Pirates could never find a rhythm at any point in the game as the frustration began to mount and it boiled over with about 12 minutes to play when Pirates’ defenseman Nathan Oystrick was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty.
“We didn’t handle the managing of the game very well,” said Edwards. “They got (angry) at the referees. We should know better than that. We’ve got veterans on this team that should know how to handle these things. I’ve got to manage it better. It’s my fault. I’m in charge of the group and they didn’t handle it well and that’s on me.”
Ryan Duncan was a healthy scratch and Edwards noted he may find himself back into the lineup after the Pirates performance.
“There’s not too many guys that are exempt from coming out of the lineup after a game like that.”
NOTES: The Phoenix Coyotes recalled defenseman Chris Summers prior to the game. Summers has played 17 games with the Pirates this season and has a team-leading plus-6 rating with two assists… The Pirates assigned forward Igor Gongalsky to the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL. Gongalsky appeared in 13 games, scoring one assist for a minus-2 rating with 29 minutes in penalties… The Coyotes signed forward Ashton Rome to an American Hockey League contract on Tuesday. Rome was on a PTO contract that recently expired. In 25 games for the Pirates, he’s scored three goals, one assist for four points with minus-3 rating.