Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates slither into the offseason

SACO – It was a season that couldn’t end fast enough for the Portland Pirates.

The Pirates capped off its 2013-’14 season much in the same way it began with a 5-4 loss against the St. John’s IceCaps. The Pirates finish the season with a 10-game losing streak, its longest losing streak of the season, and with the worst record in the American Hockey League.

“We didn’t do a good enough job, simply,” said Pirates coach Ray Edwards when asked what the team could’ve done better.

The game was originally schedule to be played at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, but a scheduling conflict by the arena led to the Pirates and Kora Shrine Circus both being booked for the same night.

The Pirates moved the game to its practice facility, MHG Ice Center, in Saco where the announced attendance for the game was a standing-room crowd of 550, far less than the 2,229 average at the Colisee.

The Pirates finished the season with the worst attendance in the AHL, a first in their 21-years of existence. The team also set the record for fewest home wins with 10, beating the previous record of 13 games set in 1998-99.

St. John’s scored three goals in the final 20 to defeat the Pirates in an entertaining game.

“What did we do wrong,” said Edwards. “What do we have to do better? We’ll take the next couple weeks and do the postmortem on it. We’ve all got to find a way to hold ourselves accountable and fix it.”

Jerome Samson started the third period comeback, putting the puck behind Louis Domingue while on a 2-man advantage just 1:10 into the period to tie the game 3-3.

Josh Lunden gave St. John’s their first lead of the night, when he potted the puck behind Louis Domingue after a shot from the point that slowed after hitting Greg Carey’s stick about mid-slot at 8:42.

Just after the mid-way point of the period, Brandon Yip was pulled down by Jordan Hill on a breakaway and was rewarded a penalty shot at 13:38.

He deked left to right on Michael Hutchinson and slid the puck past him stick-side to tie the game 4-4.

Just 37 seconds later, the Pirates surrendered the lead.

Lunden scored his second of the contest to secure the win.

“We fought back to tie it and the next shift defend like a peewee [team],” said Edwards. “We can’t turn the puck over and defend like that after a goal, but that’s the way it has been for us this year.”

The Pirates started the game by jumping out to a 2-0 lead by the end of the first.

It only took Brandon Gormley 10 seconds to rip a shot from the point behind Hutchinson on the man advantage. Andy Miele won the draw back to Connor Murphy who slid the puck over to Gormley who scored at 6:54 as Josh Lunden sat for hooking.

Tobias Rieder put the Pirates up 2-0 at 14:43 scoring off the rush. Assists went to Jordan Martinook and Miele.

St. John’s battled back in the second to tie the game at two.

Just 4:46 in, Kael Mouillierat scored after the IceCaps spent a good amount of time in the Pirates’ zone.

John Albert tied things up at 15:39 as the teams skated four aside. Albert got the puck on Domingue’s doorstep and was finally able to ram his own rebound home.

Yip regained the lead for the Pirates, picking the puck off a St. John’s skater in the neutral zone, skating in and roofing the puck over Hutchinson for the shorthanded goal and a 3-2 lead at 17:32.

Domingue finished with 31 saves in the loss, while Michael Hutchinson stopped 27 of 31 for the victory. St. John’s head into the Calder Cup playoffs as the No. 4 seed and will face the Albany Devils in a best-of-five series, starting in New York on Friday. The Pirates will head into a summer of uncertainty as they begin with exit interviews on Sunday.