Both sides last met back on April 7, 2012 in a game that was full of accusations – Worcester’s coaching staff accused Pirates’ coach Ray Edwards of stealing pizza from the meal room in a previous game in Worcester – and foul play, which finally boiled over to an all out bench-clearing brawl.
As a result, Jimmy Bonneau was suspended eight games and Matt Pelech was given a four-game suspension. Bonneau still has two games remaining on his suspension, while Pelech will be available to the Sharks.
The Pirates don’t expect a lot to be made of the rematch as enough time has passed to allow both teams to cool off since they last faced each other nearly six months ago.
“I don’t think we’re going to hold anything against each other,” said forward Andy Miele. “For those of us that were here last season I’m sure it will be in the back of everyone’s head, but we’ve got a fairly new team so I don’t foresee it being an issue.”
That said if it does become an issue Portland feels they can answer the bell this time around. The Pirates have added some muscle to the lineup, namely Joel Rechlicz and Mark Louis, who can provide protection should things get out of hand.
“It was an element that we didn’t have last year,” said Pirates’ coach Ray Edwards. “(Rechlicz) keeps people honest and if they aren’t, he’ll handle it. We certainly have no issues with playing hard and we expect other teams to play hard as well, but the issue becomes when (opposing teams) cross a line that you have a couple guys like Joel (Rechlicz) and Mark (Louis) to keep the peace.
Portland, who’s beginning its 20th Anniversary season, will be looking for their first win of the season after losing, 6-3, to the Adirondack Phantoms last Saturday.
They held a one goal lead, but couldn’t hold onto it as Portland gave up eight power play opportunities, including a stretch where they had to kill off back-to-back five-on-three’s that lead to the tying goal by Adirondack’s Sean Couturier midway into the second period.
Portland was never able to find its footing in the third period.“It’s not something that we want to do,” said Edwards of taking so many penalties. “It’s not how we’re going to be successful. It’s wasn’t smart hockey. We know that. We understand that we have to be better in that area.”
While the Pirates will be playing a home game Friday night, it will be very much be treated as a road game for the players and coaching staff in preparation as they take the show on the road to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Due to a 33-million dollar renovation, which is currently ongoing at the Cumberland County Civic Center, the Pirates have to play its first two home games of the season at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. The team will plan to skate in morning at Portland Ice Arena on Friday before traveling by bus to the Colisee in the afternoon.
“The fans will be on our side who it will feel like a home game,” said Miele, “but, we do have to travel so we need to make sure that we take care of our bodies, get enough sleep and make sure we have our nutrition like when we travel on the road.”
“We’re going to treat this a lot like when we travel to Manchester,” Edwards. “Hopefully, the crowd will give up a spark and we can feed off that energy and find a rhythm.”
Portland has only played one game, but they’re already dealing with a small rash of injuries as Chris Summers, Mike Stone, Max Goncharov and Jordan Martinook have been nicked by the injury bug.
Stone is the closest to return with Summers (upper-body) and Goncharov (lower-body) listed as day-to-day. Martinook is back skating against after missing the last week with a right leg injury.
Because of the injuries, the Pirates have signed center Evan Brophey to a professional tryout contract.
Brophey played last season for the Lake Erie Monsters, the Colorado Avalanche AHL affiliate, scoring 18 goals, 21 assists for 39 points in 72 games. He is a veteran of 371 AHL games with Rockford and Lake Erie, recording 62 goals, 85 assists for 147 points.
Brophey is a player that Edwards is familiar with after coaching against him when the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate was located in San Antonio and believes he can add to an area where the Pirates are deficient.
“We knew that we needed some depth at center,” said Edwards. “He’s a younger player and someone that we’ve been watching. He had a good year last season and is a good player on the power play, penalty kill and is good in the faceoff circle.”