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Eye on the Pirates: Watkins Enjoying Fast Start

Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 6:10 PM / Features
By Chris Roy

Portland Pirates forward Matt Watkins is notorious for being a slow starter and doesn’t normally find his groove until the second half of the season.

This season, it seems he has found it early as he helped the Pirates, the Coyotes’ affiliate in the American Hockey League, defeat Providence, 3-2, on Saturday to complete a sweep of their weekend homestand.

Matt Watkins
“I’ve been a slow starter over the last couple of seasons,” Watkins said. “(Pirates head coach) Ray (Edwards) has put me in a good position to be successful and play with some really good players. I just have to take advantage of that opportunity, which I felt I did.”

Watkins, who missed three games due to an upper-body injury, scored two goals and added an assist in the game - his second game back in the lineup.

Forward Brett MacLean chipped in a goal and an assist in the win.

The Pirates began the weekend with a 3-2 shootout victory against one of the top teams in the AHL as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came to town for the first of its two stops at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Despite being outshot 26-11 in the first two periods, the Pirates’ defensive structure kept them in the game and eventually led to the first goal of the contest by defenseman Maxim Goncharov, who was recalled by the Coyotes on Monday.

Michael Stone scored on a one-timer from rookie Andy Miele to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

Ben Street tied the score in the third period for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but after a scoreless overtime period, the Pirates got shootout goals from Ryan Duncan and MacLean, and Curtis McElhinney stopped four of five shooters to secure the victory.

McElhinney made 35 saves on the night to earn his first victory at the Civic Center.

The Pirates are 4-4-0-0 at home and 8-7-0-1 overall to sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Pirates are ranked in the top-10 in attendance in the AHL. The Pirates have averaged 5,679 fans through the first nine games of the season, playing in front of nearly 84.3 percent capacity at the Civic Center and have recorded three sellouts to date.

The Pirates upcoming schedule includes a game at Hartford, and a home-and-home series against Worcester.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on the Portland Pirates visit portlandpirates.com
 
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