GLENDALE -- The Portland Pirates - the Coyotes’ top affiliate in the American Hockey League – will play games on back-to-back nights this weekend.
First up is a “home” game tonight vs. the Worcester Sharks at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine. The Pirates’ home arena in Portland - the Cumberland County Civic Center – is being renovated and won’t be available for use by the team until Nov. 2.
On Saturday, the Pirates will play at the Manchester Monarchs.
Portland hasn’t played since losing its season opener, 6-3, to the Adirondack Phantoms on Oct. 13.
Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored a goal in that game and led the Pirates with five shots. Ekman-Larsson, of course, is playing in the AHL at this time only because of the ongoing NHL work stoppage.
After finishing his breakout season in the NHL, Ekman-Larsson spent the summer in Sweden and worked out with his dad and his brother while there. He considered staying there during the work stoppage, but ultimately he and the Coyotes decided playing in the AHL – in North American rinks – was the better plan of attack for him.
“I’m happy to be here and I’m excited to play some games,” Ekman-Larsson said. “I think this is the best place for me to be right now.”
Coyotes Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving, who also serves as the G.M. of the Pirates, says Ekman-Larsson is handling his time in the AHL like a pro.
“He’s excited to be there, and he approaches every practice the right way and he wants to get playing in the games,” Treliving said. “He’s setting a great example for all of our young players there. I think it’s invaluable for our young players to be able to watch a player like Oliver and how he goes about his business. He’s been great about it.”
Ekman-Larsson, 21, was recently named an assistant captain for the Pirates and is hoping to use this stint in the AHL to hone his leadership skills.
“I will try to play my best everyday in practice and in every game, and I will try to improve my leadership, too,” Ekman-Larsson said. “I really want to be a leader.”
Treliving thinks that’s a good idea.
“As a player there are always things you can work on, especially if you’re only 21 years old,” Treliving said. “Playing in Portland, he has a chance to work on his leadership skills. We’re hoping he can do that in the time he is there, however long that may be, and then carry those skills throughout his NHL career.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: For live updates on all Portland Pirates games follow @PortlandPirates on Twitter.
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