The Pirates, who earned three of a possible four points against the St. John’s IceCaps, will face the Binghamton Senators at a sold out Colisee according the team officials.
The Senators are a well-balanced team and still have few pieces in place from its 2011 Calder Cup Championship, beginning with Robin Lehner, who’s ranked fourth in the league with a 1.32 GAA and a .954 save percentage.
Fans will see a familiar face on the ice with Tyler Eckford suiting up for the Senators. Eckford played last season for the Pirates, where he appeared in 75 games, scoring 25 points.
The Senators will be without two key roster players as Eric Gryba and Jared Cowen did not travel on the road trip from the Senators due to injuries and as a result Chris Wideman was recalled from the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL.
For Portland, they will be looking to maintain their ability to score goals as the Pirates currently have one of the more prolific offenses in the American Hockey League this season, sporting an average of five goals per game.
Led by Alexandre Bolduc, the Pirates captain currently leads the team in scoring with nine points after having an assists taken away from Tuesday’s game in St. John’s, but it’s still good enough to be tied for the league lead in scoring with Cory Conacher of the Syracuse Crunch, and Marcus Foligno and Cody Hodgson of the Rochester Americans.
Chris Conner, who is tied for the team lead in goals, joins Bolduc as one of five players from the Pirates who are in the top-20 in AHL scoring, which includes Rob Klinkhammer, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Andy Miele.
“That is what’s great about the top two lines because with other teams can’t just focus on one line or the other,” said Pirates’ coach Ray Edwards. (Bolduc) leads by example and having him with Klinkhammer and Szwarz it gives us a little bit everything, but it forces other teams to try and check two lines instead of one.”
While the offense has been an unexpected, but pleasant surprise for Edwards, the defense has been a completely different story. The defense was suppose to the team’s strong suit, even the coaching staff agreed that Portland’s defense would be the source behind the Pirates’ victories on most nights.
Yet, the team is 30th in AHL defense, giving up nearly five goals per game.
Until Wednesday when goalie Chad Johnson stopped all 28 shots for a 4-0 shutout win in St. John’s, all of the team’s losses were with Johnson between the pipes.
Not all of the blame falls on his shoulders, but he certainly was more than willing to accept the majority of it.
“(Johnson) was very accountable to our group,” said Edwards after Wednesday night’s 4-0 victory. “Our guys felt like we needed to play better in front of him. He took a lot of the heat (Tuesday) night and the blame (for the loss).”
It’s a battle of brothers when the Senators come to town as Mike Stone and Darian Dziurzynski will face their siblings for the first time as professionals. Mike Stone’s brother, Mark, is a rookie this season for the Senators after playing his junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. The younger Stone was a member of last year’s Canadian World Junior U-20 roster that won bronze. He finished as the team’s leading scoring with 10 points in six games. This is not the first time the Stone brothers have played each other as they faced off together during the Memorial Cup in 2010 when Mike Stone was a member of the Calgary Hitmen.
The Dziurzynski’s will also be facing either for the first time as professionals. David, who is entering his third season as a professional, was a part of the 2011 Calder Cup Championship as a member of the Binghamton Senators. Darian is rookie this season with the Pirates, appearing in one game.
The AHL announced on Friday that 38 games have been added to the broadcast schedule for SiriusXM NHL Network Radio. A game between the Pirates and Manchester Monarchs will be aired from the Cumberland County Civic Center on Nov. 20th at 7pm and can be heard on XM channel 92 or Sirius channel 207. It will be the lone broadcast in the month of November for the Pirates.
Prior to the Pirates facing off against the Senators, the Portland Junior Pirates will take to the ice for a pair of the games, starting with the Empire Junior Hockey League Pirates playing host to the Springfield Pics at 12:30pm, followed by the Eastern Junior Hockey Pirates playing host to the EJHL’s Springfield Pics at 2:45pm.
The Empire Junior Hockey League (EmJHL) is the top Tier III Junior B league in the Northeast with players graduating to the play in the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL) with the potential of moving on to Division I or D-III Collegiate programs.