SACO — The Portland Pirates are finally on a roll after a slow start to the season, and the team will take a six-game point streak on the road this weekend as they travel to Norfolk to face the Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.’

“We’ve been playing pretty solid on the road,” Pirates coach Ray Edwards said. “It’s just a matter of, sometimes it’s nice just to get away from everybody for a while and hopefully we can continue playing well.”

The Pirates last played Sunday in Providence at the tail end of a three-games-in-three-days stretch, pulling out an overtime win over the Bruins to 2-0-0-1 over those three games.

“Sunday’s game wasn’t perfect, but we found a way to win it,” Edwards said. “The only other game I didn’t like was one St. John’s game. So out of 13 games, we’ve really had only two games we’d really like to have back, and one of them we won. We’ve been relatively consistent.”

The Pirates are facing arguably the best goaltending tandem in the American Hockey League this weekend. Norfolk’s John Gibson was the AHL goaltender of the month in October, has a 1.99 GAA and has two shutouts with a 6-4-2 record. The Admirals’ Frederik Andersen returned to the team this week after seven starts in the NHL, where he went 6-1 for Anaheim as a last week’s No. 2 star in the league. In two starts for the Admirals, he is 2-0 with a 0.96 GAA and a .971 save percentage.

“They’ve got great goaltending and a veteran team,” Edwards said. “That’s a good challenge for our goalies. Everyone’s talking about how great their goalies are, so let’s see how good ours are. For (Mark Visentin) and (Mike Lee), it’s a good challenge. They have two young goalies, we have two young goalies, so let’s see who will win that battle this weekend. It’s a nice game within a game.”


Visentin is 5-3-0-1 this season for the Pirates with a .923 save percentage, while Lee is 0-2-0-1 with a .910 save percentage.

One thing going in the Pirates’ favor is Norfolk’s propensity to allow shots on goal. In 17 games this season, opponents have outshot the Admirals 16 times, and they were even with Manchester in their most recent contest.

But, Edwards cautioned, the raw number of shots isn’t always telling of a team’s ability.

“It’s more about quality opportunities,” Edwards said. “You obviously want to get pucks to the net, but you want to get scoring chances, those are more important than shots. And when you get those opportunities, you have to bury them. We’ve been scoring some goals lately, which is nice, but we’re going to have our hands full (in Norfolk).”

Some familiar faces on the Norfolk roster include former NHLers Nolan Yonkman, Garnet Exelby, Brett Skinner, Dave Steckel and Zach Stortini; former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League regulars Kevin Gagne (Saint John/Rimouski), Alex Grant (Saint John/Shawinigan) and Maxime Sauvé (Val d’Or/Quebec); and former Hockey East standout Steven Whitney (Boston College). Whitney and Grant are tied for the team lead with eight points.

The Pirates’ staff is hoping this trip, on top of the team’s recent run of wins, will help lift the team a bit higher in the standings.

“Some of the challenges for us now are, OK, now we’ve gotten over .500, the challenge now is to separate ourselves from some other teams, continue to build on that and become an elite team,” Edwards said. “Can we do that? That’s the question I’m asking our group now.”

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