LEWISTON, ME –The Portland Pirates scored seven times on Saturday on their way to beating the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the Manchester Monarchs. Chris Rawlings, in his first AHL start, made 23 saves on the way to his first AHL victory. With the win, the Pirates keep their VIP Cup Series, presented by VIP Tires & Service, title defense alive.
Manchester jumped out to an early lead, scoring at 3:59 in the first on the power play with Jordan Weal getting credit for the goal. Less than two minutes later at 5:38, Brian O’Neill made it 2-0 Manchester.
The Pirates responded in a big way, scoring five unanswered goals. Tim Kennedy got the Pirates sailing with a great deflection in front of the net at 12:41 to get Portland on the board. At 18:42, Kennedy scored again, this time on the power play. Joel Hanley carried the puck into the zone, dishing it off to Kennedy who was trailing behind, allowing Kennedy to fire the puck over a sliding defenseman and into the back of the net.
In the second, Andy Miele scored his team-leading 26th goal of the year on the power play, blasting a shot from the left circle and beating Jean-Francois Berube over the shoulder at 2:41. Randy Jones was the next, hammering home a one-timer from above the right circle at 14:00 before Jordan Martinook scored at 16:39 on the power play, beating Berube under the arm and ending the Manchester goalie’s night.
The Monarchs pushed back shortly after Martinook’s goal as Andy Andreoff scored shorthanded at 17:21 to bring the Monarchs back within reach at 5-3.
Martinook gave the Pirates another three-goal lead at 9:02, again on the power play, as he slipped behind the defenders, receiving a pass from the far boards and firing home a shot to Patrik Bartosak’s blocker side. The Monarchs again tried to throw off the revolt, scoring at 10:34 when Sean Backman scored off a feed from Weal. Then, at 18:20, Manchester pulled to within one with O’Neill scoring his second of the night.
With the goalie pulled, the Monarchs sent six forwards to the ice to try for the game-tying goal, but a Monarch mishandled the puck at the blue line, allowing Brandon Yip to poke it away and rush towards the empty net to deposit the insurance goal at 19:48 and hand the Pirates the win.