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Eye on the Pirates: Young Players Learning on the Job

Monday, 10.24.2011 / 5:32 PM / Features
By Chris Roy
The Portland Pirates are well aware it’s a long season in the American Hockey League.

After earning a convincing 5-3 win against the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings) on Wednesday, the Coyotes' top affiliate dropped two games over the weekend. As of Monday, Portland is 2-3-0-1 and remains in fifth place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division with five points.

Ray Edwards
Despite dropping a 3-0 decision to the Adirondack Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers) on Friday night, followed by a 4-3 defeat on Saturday to the Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins) in the Battle of I-95, Pirates Head Coach Ray Edwards took more positives than negatives out of the weekend.

“We’re learning how to play (at this level) and this is how (prospects) learn,” Edwards said. “They worked extremely hard. I don’t have one fault with anybody on the (team). We made some young mistakes and unfortunately those three or four mistakes ended up in our net.”

The Pirates started their week by redeeming themselves from their home-opening loss to the Monarchs with a 5-3 victory on Wednesday.

The game was a coming out party of sorts for forward Andy Miele, who scored a pair of goals and added three assists. Two days later, Miele was rewarded with a recall to the Coyotes.

On Friday, the Pirates ran into a hot goaltender in Michael Leighton. The one-time Pirates netminder, who was a win away from winning the Stanley Cup two years ago with the Flyers, stood on his head, making 35 saves in the victory.

On Saturday, Providence came to town in an anticipated matchup before nearly 6,000 fans at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The Bruins struck first in a back-and-forth game before scoring twice in the third period to seal a 4-3 victory. The Pirates finished the night outshooting the Bruins, 40-26, but couldn’t find that one goal to tie the game in the closing seconds. Garrett Stafford, Kyle Chipchura and Spencer Bennett scored goals for Portland. Bennett’s goal was his first as a pro.

On Sunday, the Coyotes traded Stafford along with Petteri Nokelainen to the Montreal Canadiens for center Brock Trotter and a seventh-round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Trotter will join the Pirates in Toronto before they fly to St. John’s, Newfoundland to face the St. John’s Ice Caps (formerly the Manitoba Moose) for the first time since their relocation from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The team bused out of Portland on Sunday and will stay in a Boston hotel before an early morning flight to Toronto. After a three-hour layover, they will fly to St. John’s for a pair games on Tuesday and Wednesday at Mile One Arena before flying back to Boston on Thursday and making the 90-minute commute northward by bus to Portland.

Portland should be nearing full health this week as Marc-Antoine Pouliot is expected to return to the lineup after missing five games due to a bout of pneumonia. Also returning should be Colin Long (illness) and Brett Hextall (upper-body injury). Alexandre Bolduc (upper-body injury) is expected to be ready by Christmas.
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