Portland, Maine – Brett Sterling scored two goals to power the Pirates past the Hershey Bears in a 6-4 victory in front of 5,826 fans at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The win saw five Pirates score goals and ten notch assists. The Pirates (36-30-4-5, 81 points) moved into seventh place in the Eastern Conference with the win, one point clear of the Syracuse Crunch, who lost to the Rochester Americans 5-1. The Pirates have now won four straight, six in a row on home ice, and have won six of their last eight games. The Bears, (38-24-4-8, 88 points) who have secured a playoff spot and sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, dropped their sixth straight decision, going 0-4-0-2 over that span.
The Bears opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal to open the scoring when forward Kyle Greentree pushed one past Portland goaltender Peter Mannino, assisted by Julien Brouillette and Garrett Mitchell to put Hershey on the board at 10:32 in the first period.
The Bears wouldn’t hold the lead for long as the Pirates answered just over a minute later with a Brett MacLean goal, his 25th of the season, assisted by Tyler Eckford and David Rundblad.
The Pirates came out on fire at the start of the second period, scoring less than a minute in when Andy Miele retrieved his own rebound and passed it to a wide open Matt Watkins, who put it past Bears goaltender Daren Machesney for his eleventh goal of the season. Ashton Rome also picked up an assist on the play.
Minutes later, the Pirates wasted no time making up for the shorthanded goal they’d given up in the first as Brett Sterling found the back of the net fifteen seconds into Portland’s power play of the night to put the Pirates up 3-1. Marc-Antoine Pouliot and MacLean picked up the assists.
After exchanging offensive chances, Hershey forward David Civitarese got the best of Mannino for his first AHL goal when he let a weak shot off that trickled past Mannino’s pads to cut the Pirates lead back to one at 8:04 in the second period.
Just over a minute later, the Pirates regained the two goal lead when Andy Miele beat Machesney for his sixteenth goal of the year, assisted by Nick Ross and Oystrick. The assist gave Oystrick 200 points for his AHL career.
The Bears would strike again before the second period closed out. With traffic out front and a flurry of shots, Matt Carman picked up a rebound and put it past Mannino to put the Bears within one goal again.
The Pirates power play would again capitalize on a chance when Sterling picked up his second goal of the game and 30th of the season when he grabbed a loose rebound amid traffic out front and fired it past Machesney to put the Pirates up 5-3 at 2:08 of the third period. MacLean and Oystrick picked up assists on the play, Oystrick’s third assist of the night, and MacLean’s third point of the game.
The Bears power play, ranked first in the league, finally scored on their fourth opportunity when Ryan Potulny fired a slapshot from the bottom of the right circle over Mannino’s left shoulder, assisted by Chris Bourque and Greentree at 3:52 of the third.
The Pirates put the game away when Kenndal McArdle fired a shot that Machesney lost in traffic for his tenth goal of the season at 5:23.
The Fairway Mortgage Three Stars of the Game were all from Portland: 1 Sterling; 2. Miele; 3. Watkins.
After the game, the Pirates gave out the End of the Year Team Awards, Presented by Creative Awards:
The winners were:
Pirates Partner Award: Bill Dodge Auto Group
Mister Sparky Spark Plug of the Year: Marc-Antoine Pouliot
Fairway Mortgage Three Star Award: Andy Miele
Jack Button Award (Top Prospect, as chosen by Phoenix Coyotes organization): Michael Stone
Tom Ebright Award (Player who best exemplifies what it means to be a Pirate): Matt Watkins
Players’ Player: Dean Arsene
Most Popular Player (voted by fans): Ryan Hollweg
Unsung Hero (voted by fans): Tyler Eckford
Most Valuable Player, Presented by Maine Medical Center (voted by fans): Andy Miele
The Pirates will play the final game of the regular season on Sunday against the Providence Bruins 4:05 p.m. Join the Voice of the Pirates Jeff Mannix for the call of the game starting with the pregame show at 3:50 p.m. on the WPEI 95.9 and 95.5 Portland Pirates Radio Network.
Portland Pirates 20th Anniversary Season Tickets are now on sale! You can secure your seats for as low as $50! Season tickets include plenty of great incentives! To find out more, call the Pirates Tickets Office at 828-4665, EXT 350 today!