PORTLAND, Maine – Brett MacLean registered a goal and two assists, while Brett Sterling scored two power play goals to help the Portland Pirates to a 6-4 victory over the HERSHEY BEARS on Friday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
After the BEARS failed on their only power play chance of the opening period, the visitors went on the penalty kill but ended up taking the 1-0 lead. Garrett Mitchell led a three-on-two rush down the right wing, and forced a shot on goal that Mannino stopped. Kyle Greentree jumped to the rebound first, and swept it behind Mannino at 10:32.
The Pirates tied it when Tyler Eckford’s blast from the center point was tipped by MacLean past Daren Machesney at 11:55.
The hosts forged ahead with a quick strike in the second period. Andy Miele’s original shot on net was blocked back to him, and instead of trying another shot on net, he fed a pass to his right where Matt Watkins slammed it past Machesney at 54 seconds for a 2-1 lead.
Sterling later collected a bad bounce off of the corner boards in the slot, and while uncovered, whirled and sent a snap shot past Machesney at 5:33.
David Civitarese then scored his first AHL goal to cut the Pirates’ lead to 3-2 at 8:04 of the second. After taking a pass from Matt Pope, Civitarese skated into the right faceoff circle and snapped a shot that handcuffed Mannino and trickled into the net.
Just 1:08 later, Miele backhanded the rebound of a Nick Ross point shot over Machesney from the top of the crease, restoring the Pirates’ two-goal advantage.
But the BEARS would not quit. Mike Carman jumped on the rebound of Chris Bourque’s chance at 10:38, and stuffed it past Mannino to cut the Portland lead to 4-3.
After Sterling’s second power play goal of the night at 2:08 of the third period made it 5-3 in favor of the hosts, Potulny buried his league-leading 18th power-play goal of the campaign to again bring HERSHEY back within one at 3:52. But after the BEARS failed to clear the puck out of their right corner, Kenndal McArdle turned and sent a low wrist shot past Machesney at 5:23, rounding out the scoring. Sterling had a chance for the hat trick when he was awarded a penalty shot at 9:25 after being taken down on his way out of the penalty box on a breakaway, but Machesney made a save with the paddle of his stick.
Machesney falls to 0-1-1 with 19 saves. Mannino improves to 12-10-1 with 24 saves on 28 shots. The BEARS finished the night 1-for-5 on the power play and 1-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The BEARS record now stands at 38-24-4-8 (88 points) with two games remaining.
Coupled with a shootout loss by the Connecticut Whale, the BEARS can finish no lower than fifth place in the Eastern Conference and will thus take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, with the Penguins hosting the first two games.
The complete first-round playoff schedule between the BEARS and Penguins will be announced tomorrow at 11:00 am.
The BEARS will continue their New England road trip with a matchup against the Manchester Monarchs tomorrow, April 14 with faceoff set for 3:00 PM. Fans may listen to the game on the BEARS Radio Network partners 100.1-FM WQIC, 1230-AM WKBO, 93.7-FM HD2 WRVV, and online at whp580.com.
Tickets for the opening game of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals are on sale now, and may be purchased by calling (717) 508-BEAR or by visiting ticketmaster.com.