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Eye on the Pirates: Team Focused on Push to Playoffs

Friday, 02.03.2012 / 6:08 PM / Features
By Anthony Perez
The Coyotes’ American Hockey League affiliate, aka the Portland Pirates, are back on the ice tonight following their All-Star break and, like their parent club, they’re looking to secure a playoff spot.

Portland, which sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings with 47 points and a record of 21-18-2-3, is coming out of the break looking to snap a two-game losing streak.

Coyotes Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving, who is also the general manager of the Pirates, said the organization’s affiliation with the Pirates this season has been a positive one.

“Being in Portland has been a real good thing for us,” Treliving said. “It’s a great situation in terms of the pure development of the players. The practice time we have, the scheduling, the setup in Portland; I think it’s just been a real good move for us.”

Regarding the team’s performance thus far, Treliving says the Pirates have had their fair share of ups and downs.

“I think the word inconsistent best describes the unofficial first half (of the season),” Treliving said. “They’ve shown flashes of real good play, then they’ve had a little bit of the other.”

As with any team, if Portland wants to make the playoffs its goaltending will have to be strong, and for the Pirates their workload has been split this year between Justin Pogge and Curtis McElhinney.

Pogge has played in 21 games and has posted a record of 9-7-3-0 with a 2.94 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage. McElhinney has appeared in 25 games and has posted a record of 10-13-0-0 with a 3.04 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.

The goaltending is aided by some key defensive prospects.

Michael Stone, who was a third-round selection by Phoenix in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has collected six goals and 12 assists in 44 games.

David Rundblad
David Rundblad, who was acquired in a trade from Ottawa on Dec. 17 and initially played in two games with Phoenix, has stood out and notched three goals and an assist in six games.

“Rundblad is very poised with the puck,” Treliving said. “He’s got real good puck skill. And it’s been good for him to be down there and to play games. He’s getting a lot of ice time, playing in all different situations.”

On the offensive side, Brett MacLean was the AHL’s Player of the Month for December and has recorded 16 goals and 12 assists in 33 games with the Pirates. Brett Hextall, who was selected by the Coyotes in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has collected four goals and six assists in 40 games in his first year of professional hockey after making the jump from the University of North Dakota.

Center Andy Miele also is having a nice year.

In his first full professional season, Miele has notched nine goals and 23 assists in 37 games with Portland. He was selected to play in the AHL All-Star Game, where he notched a goal and an assist for the Eastern Conference in an 8-7 shootout loss.

The Pirates, who won four games in a row before their two-game skid, play at home tonight against Springfield.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For more information on the Pirates, visit portlandpirates.com.
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