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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pirates Hold On to Beat Whale 5-4, Take a 3-2 Series lead

Parrish scores winner (Photo J Gendron) 
It looked like the Pirates would run away in Game 5, taking a 3-0 lead just 45 seconds into the second period, and literally knocking out Whale goalie Dov Grumet-Morris. However, Grumet-Morris' injury ignited a fire in the rest of the Connecticut team, and they made a game out of it. Mark Parrish scored on the power play early in the third period to break a 4-4 tie, and Dave Leggio made an impossible save to preserve the win for the Pirates. Portland now has a 3-2 series lead, and will look to close out the series in Game 6.

Portland struck first in a fast-paced first period, as Mark Mancari sniped a slap shot from the blue line past Grumet-Morris for a power play goal. It was Mancari's second game back after


missing the first 3 games while playing with parent club Buffalo. Mark Voakes and Paul Byron assisted on the goal. The Pirates had all the offensive momentum after Connecticut started out with a flurry of shots. Travis Turnbull made it 2-0 Pirates on a goal late in the period, with Corey Tropp and Dennis Persson notching assists.

The start of the second period was a nightmare for the Whale. 18 seconds in Grumet-Morris went down after taking a hard shot off the body. He laid on the ice for a couple minutes until he was able to shake it off. Luke Adam would put a backhand shot past him less than 30 seconds later, and it was clear Dov was not right. Mancari and Persson assisted on Adam's goal. Grumet-Morris would be replaced by Cameron Talbot, and this invigorated the Whale players.

The play got physical in the period, and the Pirates found the worst times to show it. The Whale would get five power play chances, and would score twice. Kris Newbury scored his first goal on the power play 4 1/2 minutes into the period, cutting the Portland lead to 3-1. Dennis McAuley gave Portland some breathing room later in the period, scoring on a 2-on-1 with Corey Tropp feeding him the puck. Newbury would score again just 21 seconds later to make it 4-2 Pirates. Chad Kolarik would score the Whale's second power play goal with eight minutes to go in the second, after three players were sent to the box for roughing. The physicality was heating up, and the Whale had all the momentum. McAuley would go to the penalty box at the end of the period, and give Connecticut a man-advantage to start the third.

While the Whale didn't score on the power play, they did light the lamp only seconds later. Brodie Dupont would score with the Whale still attacking in the Portland zone, with Blake Parlett and Kelsey Tessier picking up assists. Dupont would go to the penalty box five seconds later for tripping, and after that his night was done. The Pirates took advantage of Dupont's untimely penalty, as Mark Parrish scored a minute into the power play, with Persson and Mancari picking up the assists.

The 17 minutes left to play seemed like an eternity for the Pirates. Dave Leggio had to stop Connecticut's best efforts time after time as they tried to net the equalizer. His best stop of the night came with only 2.8 seconds remaining, as he somehow stopped the puck between his skate and the left post. No one, including Leggio, knew if the puck had gone in, but after a few long moments, the refs ruled it was in fact a save. The Pirates won the faceoff, and as the buzzer sounded escaped with a hard-fought victory.

Mancari was named the #1 star after collecting a goal and 2 assists and taking 9 shots. Corey Tropp was named the #2 star after assisting on 2 of the goals and finishing with a +2 plus/minus rating. Connecticut's Newbury was named the #3 star after scoring the Whale's first 2 goals and later assisting on another.

The series heads back to Hartford for game 6 on Saturday, with the Pirates looking to close out the series, and the Whale looking to tie it up and extend their season.


Pirates Forward Mark Mancari

Pirates Head Coach Kevin Dineen


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