Portland, ME - The Portland Pirates got goals from Ashton Rome and Marc-Antoine Pouliot, and Peter Mannino made 34 saves, Wednesday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, as the Pirates defeated the Connecticut Whale, 2-1.
Marek Hrivik scored the only goal, his first point as a pro, for the Whale, who outshot Portland 35-27. Nathan Oystrick had two assists for the Pirates.
“The focus is to keep playing well, to peak when we hit the playoffs,” Whale head coach Ken Gernander said. “Tonight was a pretty good indication, I thought we worked pretty hard and generated a lot of shots, just didn’t score enough.”
The loss kept the Whale (36-26-7-5, 84 pts.) three points behind the idle Bridgeport Sound for the Northeast Division lead. Connecticut clinched a spot in the playoffs with a win in their previous outing, a 1-0 road decision over the Hershey Bears Sunday.
The Whale controlled significant stretches of the first period Wednesday and outshot the Pirates 13-9, but it was the Pirates who got the only goal.
After Cam Talbot (25 saves) had shut out Hershey Sunday, the first shot he saw Wednesday got by him, on a Rome deflection. Rome was able to screen Talbot to the goaltender’s right, and he tipped in Oystrick’s shot from the left point.
Some Whale penalty problems allowed Portland to make it a 2-0 lead at 13:36 of the second period. Connecticut’s Tim Erixon was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass at 12:53, and the Whale bench protested enough that a bench minor was called as well.
The Pirates capitalized 43 seconds later at 13:36, as Pouliot buried a perfect cross-crease feed from Brett Sterling.
The Whale’s best chance of the period came late in the session on a power play, when Casey Wellman got a shot past Mannino on the stick side, only to have the shot go off the goalpost.
The Whale enjoyed a 14-11 shots advantage in the third period, but could not solve Mannino until the Portland goaltender was only 2:39 away from a shutout.
The only Connecticut goal came when Jordan Owens was able to find Hrivik behind the net, and the rookie forward flipped the puck toward the front of the goal to Mannino’s left. It hit off of a Portland defender and found its way just over the goal line at 17:21.
Mannino held strong after that, though, and the Whale finished the season series against the Pirates winless in four games on the road (0-3-1-0).
The Whale’s next action is the last Whale home game of the regular season, this Friday, April 13, as the Manchester Monarchs return to the XL Center for a 7:00 game. That is Fan Appreciation Night, and the first 5,000 fans receive a green Whale bracelet presented by Xfinity. Also, $5 Family Value combo meals are available. For tickets visit www.ctwhale.com. CT Whale action is presented by the Connecticut Lottery and sponsored by Aetna, CBT and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center.
Connecticut Whale 1 at Portland Pirates 2
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - Cumberland County Civic Center
Connecticut 0 0 1 - 1
Portland 1 1 0 - 2
1st Period-1, Portland, Rome 11 (Oystrick, Rundblad), 6:36. Penalties-served by Miele Por (bench minor - too many men), 2:41; Audy-Marchessault Ct (tripping), 15:57.
2nd Period-2, Portland, Pouliot 11 (Sterling, Oystrick), 13:36 (PP). Penalties-Louis Por (cross-checking), 1:33; served by Hrivik Ct (bench minor - unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:53; Erixon Ct (delay of game), 12:53; Tessier Ct (hooking), 15:25; Werek Por (tripping), 18:00.