Published Date Written by Ken LevinskyThe Portland Pirates took over first place in the Atlantic Division of the American Hockey League's Eastern Conference over the past week. With 34 points (teams receive two points for each victory and one point for an overtime or shootout loss) the team is four points in front of the second place Providence Bruins. In their 28 games the Pirates have 16 wins, 10 losses, one overtime loss and one shootout loss.
Portland defeated Manchester 4-2 in Lewiston on Friday before traveling to Connecticut and Worcester for road victories on Saturday (1-0) and Sunday (3-2). The Pirates returned home to the Cumberland County Civic Center on Wednesday and beat Springfield 3-2 to up their league longest win streak to six games. During that span the Pirates have scored 17 goals while yielding only 10 goals. The Pirate defense has held opponents to just seven goals in their last 5 games.
The streak began on Dec. 8 when rookie goaltender Mike Lee (No. 31) age 22, 6 feet, 1 inch, 190 lbs., (on a nine-day call up from Gwinnett — ECHL), and in his only AHL game to date, replaced Mark Visentin just six minutes into the first period. Trailing 2-0, Lee made 26 saves on 27 shots as well as four shootout saves in the Pirates 4-3 victory. Since then regular goalies Visentin and Chad Johnson have been unbeatable.
Mark Visentin (No. 29) age 20, 6 feet, 2 inches, 205 lbs., is in his first year in the AHL. Johnson (No. 30) age 26, 6 feet, 3 inches, 200 lbs., has played four AHL seasons. This is his first year in Portland. Here is a game by game recap of the Pirates win streak
1. December 8 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4-3 shootout: Mark Visentin /Mike Lee
2. December 11 vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers 2-1 in overtime: Chad Johnson
3. December 14 vs. (in Lewiston) Manchester 4-2: Chad Johnson
4. December 15 at Connecticut (1-0): Mark Visentin
5. December 16 at Worcester (3-2): Chad Johnson
6. December 19 vs. Springfield 3-2: Mark Visentin
The Pirates hope to continue their winning ways at Manchester on Saturday at 7 p.m. and return home to the Cumberland County Civic Center on Thursday (December 27) at 7 p.m. to face Providence.
Portland leads the Atlantic Division in both goals scored (85) and goals against (85).
Individually, Alexandre Bolduc (No. 49) is tied for ninth in the AHL with 26 points (13 goals and 13 assists) in 27 games. Rob Klinkhammer (No. 12) is second on the team in scoring with seven goals and a team leading 16 assists, while Andy Miele (No. 21) sits in third place with 8 goals and 14 assists for a total of 22 points. The team's other "point a game" scorer is Oliver Ekman-Larsson (No. 23) who has 21 points (eight goals and 13 assists) in 19 games.
Pirates games can be heard on WLOB 1310 AM, WPEI (95.5 and 95.9 FM), WOXO (92.7 and 100.7 FM)