One night after playing their best game of the season, the Pirates decided to take the night off, and the St. John’s IceCaps were ready to take advantage.
Patrice Cormier scored two goals, leading the IceCaps to a 5-2 victory over the Pirates in front of 5,199 at Cumberland County Civic Center.
“I didn’t anticipate us playing as poorly as we did and I didn’t anticipate us taking as many penalties,” said Pirates coach Ray Edwards about his team taking almost 50 minutes in penalties. “I’m frustrated at the game and just disappointed.”
“I just keep waiting for us to push this stuff behind. This type of play, lack of discipline and all this stuff…We’ve got a good enough group in the lineup to win,” Edwards said. “The reality of it is we haven’t been able to be consistent. We’ve got to do it.”
Portland, who will break for the next seven days, has been up-and-down this season and Sunday, it looked like the players were already on their Christmas break after giving up three unanswered goals in the second period.
A pair of goals in the period came on the power play for St. John’s as the Pirates were shorthanded for nearly half the period, taking six consecutive minor penalties, which set the IceCaps in motion to finish 2-for-9 on the night with the man advantage.
“This is what happens when things go poorly,” said Edwards. “Attitudes start slipping. At times, we don’t handle adversity well and our attitude gets poor and we get upset that things we have no control over and that the biggest issue we are dealing with, which is trying to manage our attitude.”
Jason King, who played for the Pirates under the Anaheim Ducks affiliation in 2007-’08, got the jump on the Pirates in the second period as he pounced on a rebound at the right post with an open net to shoot at, giving St. John’s the lead, 4-3, at 4:31 mark.
St. John’s scored twice in a two-minute span – both times on the power play – starting with Carl Klingberg, playing his first game with the IceCaps since being assigned by their parent club, the Winnipeg Jets, as he flipped a backhander by Pirates goalie Curtis McElhinney at 14:47 of the second period.
Patrice Cormier scored his second of the night, a power-play goal, with 3:23 remaining in the period, getting to the loose puck in front of McElhinney as St. John’s extended its lead to 4-1.
“That’s what is very frustrating to me right now,” said Edwards. “At times they get it, and they understand it because the success is there. When the attitude is there, the success is there. When the attitude is poor, it’s not there. It’s that simple. We get into penalty trouble and our attitude started going and our work stopped and we started to worry about things that we have no control over.”
“That’s when the game goes in the other direction. This isn’t the first time that this has happened.”
Patrick O’Sullivan pulled the Pirates to within two goals in early in the third period with a breakaway short-handed goal, but less than minute later, St. John’s responded when Kevin Clark snapped a shot from the right side past McElhinney, who finished the night with 32 saves.
Much like Saturday night, St. John’s opened the scoring in the game as Cormier rushed into the slot, drilling Carl Klingberg’s initial shot from the left post, past McElhinney six minutes into the period.
At 13:31, Brett MacLean scored his seventh goal in five games, digging the puck away from Edward Pasquale’s pad and lifting it into the net to tie the game at 1-1.
Pasquale finished the night with 29 saves, while the Pirates will take the next several days off to regroup and look for answers.
“It’s 28 games in,” said Edwards. “We’re in the mix. We’re not out of it. We just have to find a way to turn it around. I’ll spend this week on what have here and what we’ve got to do and how we are going to do it.”
“When things are bad you fight. The coaching staff is good and we’ll figure this out and find a way.”