The Arizona Coyotes AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, are coming off a successful week as they have kept their position among the top 8 teams in the Eastern Conference. With the end of the season near, the Pirates will look to solidify their position and try to make run at the Calder Cup. Various skaters that have dressed for Arizona in Glendale will certainly play a role for Portland’s postseason hopes.
Being a farm system league, future Coyotes will also play a prominent role in the stretch run. Jordan Szwarz, who was part of last week’s edition, was recently called up to play for the Coyotes. The 23-year old Szwarz has played in the last three games for Arizona and has already scored a goal. This past week the Pirates were on home ice for all three of their matchups. The first two being against the St. John’s IceCaps and the last one against the Providence Bruins. Portland (37-24-5-1) was able to use their advantage as hosts to pick up some critical points.
On Wednesday, Portland was able to handle St. John’s in a dominating fashion, defeated the IceCaps 6-0. Their high powered offense was led by defenseman Patrick McNeill, who had three assists in the game. Brendan Shinnimin added two assists of his own as well. Lucas Lessio, Dylan Reese, and Justin Hodgman each had a goal and an assist. Mike McKenna stopped 16 shots on his way to a shutout victory for the Pirates.
Jan 29, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Arizona Coyotes forward Brendan Shinnimin (39) during the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Arizona defeated Toronto 3-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
On Friday, Portland was able to maintain their high scoring ways against St. John’s, this time in a 6-4 victory. McNeill again led the way with three assists. Long time AHL center, Alexandre Bolduc scored two goals for the Pirates. The 21-year old Henrik Samuelsson chimed in with one goal and one assist. McKenna was in goal for his second consecutive victory, stopping 24 of the 28 shots fired at him.
Portland was unable to build a longer winner streak as they were defeated by the Providence Bruins 5-2 on Saturday. Lessio, who leads the current Pirates roster with most games played in Arizona this season, scored one of the goals for Portland. Shinnimin, Reese, and Tyler Gaudet, all of whom have also played for the Coyotes, each pitched in an assist. McKenna as well as David Leggio saw playing time in this game.
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Among the leaders for this past week was McNeill, who manufactured six assists in the three games. McNeill, at the age of 28, has yet to make his NHL debut. Lessio and Bolduc both led Portland last week with three goals each. Shinnimin and Reese added a goal and three assists each. Henrik Samuelsson also pitched in with 3 points. Lessio (26 games), Shinnimin (12 games), Bolduc (3 games), Samuelsson (2 games) and Reese (1 game) have all suited up for the Coyotes this season.
Currently sitting in 8th place in the Eastern Conference, Portland is tied with the Worcester Sharks with 80 points. This upcoming week will feature a couple of pivotal matchups. The first will come on Friday when they host the Eastern Conference leader Manchester Monarchs. On Saturday they hit the road to take on the team sitting at 9th fighting directly for the last spot, the Springfield Falcons.