Sunday, March 29, 2009

Portland Pirates Down Division Rival Manchester

On a night when the Portland Pirates turned back the clock, they also may have finally turned it forward, beating the Manchester Monarchs 5 - 2 as they fight for a playoff spot. The Pirates wore the Boston Bruins' era Mariners uniforms of the 1986-87 campaign while making great strides in the Atlantic Division race.

The number 11 has seen some days in that Mariners uniform, most notably in 1988 - 89, when Mike Millar wore that jersey, scored 40 goals and 33 assists for the Mariners that season. Things looked very similar as Colin Murphy got the natural hat trick, netting 3 goals in the win over Mancester. Murphy had the prettiest goal of the night with the Monarchs on the power play. Pirates winger Mathieu Darche jumped out with Murphy on a tipped pass in Manchester's offensive zone to create a 2 on 1. Murphy gave all the credit to Darche.

"Darche driving the net, he brought both defenseman with him" Murphy said, "and it opened up a lane for me".

Murphy dragged the puck past the defender, went forehand, waited for former Lewiston MAINEiac Johnathan Bernier to commit and snapped it over him for his 2nd goal of the night.

Manchester tried the rough stuff all night, but they weren't able to goad the Pirates into any bad penalties. The surprise of the night was when Pirates rookie Tim Kennedy got his first fighting major of his pro career. Manchester center Justin Azevedo went low on Kennedy on a mid-ice collision that sent both in the air and to the ice. They took care of their differences on the next shift.

"(I) didn't want to take a dumb penalty to put the team down," said Kennedy."So I just went up to him and said if you go at my knees again we are going to have a problem. (He) asked me if I wanted to go, and I said 'sure'".

The 5' 10" 180 pound Kennedy held his own, looking like a lifelong fighter, getting a couple good licks on Azevedo before the officials broke it up.

Marc Andre Gragnani put the Pirates up 4 - 1 6:42 into the 3rd. The Monarchs finally got on the board at 9:53 of the 3rd period when another former MAINEiac Marc Andrea Cliche buried a shot past Pirates goalie Jhonas Enroth to close the gap to 4 -1. Manchester controlled play for a bit, netting another by the aforementioned Azevedo at the 13:38 mark of the period to make it 4 - 2 Pirates. Nathan Gerbe sealed the deal for the Pirates a couple of minutes later, netting his 26th goal of the season to put the Pirates up 5 - 2 for good.

Notes:The Mariners are right back at it today at 4PM to take on the Springfield Indians. Wait, my apologies, I am stuck in the afterglow of the Mariners uniforms being back on the Civic Center ice for the 4th time this season. The Pirates take on the Springfield Falcons today at 4.



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