PORTLAND – The Portland Pirates managed to eek out two points in a tight game after defeating the Worcester Sharks in a shootout, 3-2, in front of a crowd of 4,280 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The Pirates, who lead the Atlantic Division, three points ahead of the Providence Bruins, won their second straight game to improve to 26-16-1-1 to maintain third place in the AHL’s Eastern Confernce standings, only four points before conference leaders, Springfield Falcons.
The penalty killers came up huge for the Pirates after what seemed to be a continuous stream of players going to the box throughout the game. Portland killed off eight of nine minors to make it to the shootout.
Chris Brown was the hero of the night as he scored the lone goal in the skills competition. Brown, the fourth shooter for the Pirates, broke a 0-0 tie in the shootout after snapping the puck past Worcester goalie Harri Sateri.
“We worked on the shootout. Brown is in the shootout because he can shoot,” Pirates’ coach Ray Edwards said. “The ice, as poor as it was, you have to have a shooter in there, someone who can fire the puck. He’s got a hard shot.”
Mike Lee, making his second start in as many games, stopped all five Worcester shooters.
Lee was solid again in net, making several key saves through regulation and in overtime to seal the win to finish with 36 saves on the night.
“He deserves it,” said Edwards of Lee’s second start. “He played a great game before the break and has been an all star goalie in the ECHL. We had an opportunity with [Chad Johnson] being up to play him again.”
The Pirates started the game back on their heels after taking a minor penalty just 23 seconds into the game. They didn’t land a shot on the Sharks net until 5:42 of the first from Rob Klinkhammer, which sailed past Sateri for the 1-0 lead.
A power-play goal in the second from Ethan Werek gave the Pirates a two-goal lead 8:56 into the period. Werek was parked on top of the crease and redirected a pass from Klinkhammer into the open net.
The Sharks were able to cut the Pirates lead in half, 2-1, by scoring a power-play goal of their own after having multiple whacks at a rebound. Former Pirate Tim Kennedy was able to zip the puck into a wide open net past Lee after the puck found him at the far side of the crease.
The Sharks tied the game at 16:43 of the final frame after Danill Tarasov whacked in another rebound.
Lee was solid from that point forward.
“Part of my game is not making things look spectacular. Make it boring, get in front of pucks, cover up loose pucks, all the little things. Just keep goals off the board,” said Lee.
NOTES: Some bad news did come out of the victory after the Pirates lost defenseman Brandon Gormley at 14:03 of the first period. He got tangled up with Yanni Gourde and appeared to injure his leg. According to Edwards, there is no timetable for his return at this time, but he will miss tomorrow night’s game against the Albany Devils… Andy Miele was recalled to Phoenix earlier in the day. Goaltender Chad Johnson, who appeared in two games with Phoenix, was assigned to the Pirates.