PORTLAND - The Portland Pirates used four unanswered goals to complete a 4-3 comeback win over the Connecticut Whale in front of a packed house at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The win gives the Pirates victories in eight of their last nine games and insures that they end 2012 in first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Pirates, coming off a seven for eight performance on the penalty kill against Adirondack on Saturday, were tested early. Alexandre Bolduc was whistled for slashing just 5:19 into the first. Portland would only allow two shots on starter Chad Johnson to kill the game's first penalty. The Pirates' first power play chance was short lived, as just 32 seconds after a Mike Vernance hooking call, Chris Conner was sent to the box for an interference penalty at 12:31. During the ensuing four on four play, former Pirate Brandon Segal put home a rebound for his seventh of the year at 12:37 to give the Whale a 1-0 lead.
The Whale scored quickly to open the second period. Logan Pyatt sent a pass behind the Pirates' defense to Michael Haley, who would bury a shot over Johnson's shoulder for his third of the season at 1:44. Just 62 seconds later, Whale forward Christian Thomas would pick off a Brandon Gormley pass in front of the Portland net, Tommy Grant would capitalize, sliding the loose puck passed Johnson for his eighth of the season and a 3-0 Whale lead. The Pirates had a flurry of their own to wind down the second period. Mathieu Brodeur took a Brendan Shinnimin feed and beat Whale starter Cameron Talbot for his second of the year at 18:40. It would take a little over a minute for the Pirates to make it a one goal game. Chris Summers stepped into a slap shot from the top of the circles to beat Talbot for his first goal of the year at 19:44. The goal cut the Whale lead to 3-2 heading into the locker room.
The Pirates were at it again to start the third. After failing to score on a power play chance to start the period, Portland would go back on the man advantage as Mike Vernance was sent off for hooking at 2:07. On the power play, Jordan Szwarz would tip home a Michael Stone slap shot to even the game at three. Ethan Werek made it four unanswered goals for the Pirates at 12:04. Werek picked up a loose puck and made a nice move to the backhand, placing the puck over the shoulder of Talbot for his sixth goal of the season. The Whale got a late power play opportunity on a Chris Summers delay of game call at 18:43, but Johnson would come up big with a pair of reflex saves on the penalty kill to secure the win for the Pirates.
The Pirates improve to 18-11-1-1 on the season, while Chad Johnson is now 11-6-0-2. The Whale fall to 13-17-2-0, with Cameron Talbot dropping to 11-14-0-0.
The Pirates get back to action on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 at 7 PM in a makeup game from December 27th with the Providence Bruins. Tickets for the 12/27 game will be honored for the game.