The Portland Pirates are getting to the point where they meed almost as many seats in the stands for their injured players as they do roster spots for those on the ice. Despite low numbers — the Pirates dressed only 17 skaters in a loss to Worcester last weekend — the team is churning ahead, emerging from a difficult piece of the schedule with some optimism.

“One things we didn’t do, we didn’t put ourselves behind the eight-ball,” Pirates coach Ray Edwards said. “We didn’t put ourselves too far out of reach in the past 13 games. We just have to stay the course. We won enough to keep us close, and now we have to continue to establish a winning mark at home.”

The Pirates are 4-0-0-2 in their past six games at the Colisee, their last loss coming on Nov. 29 against Worcester.

“We certainly hope we can continue that stretch at home,” Edwards said.

The Pirates have played five of their past six games and seven of nine on the road, going 4-4-0-1.

“It’s difference in a sense, because six of our next eight (actually, seven of the next nine) are at home, and that’s a big stretch for us,” Edwards said. “We’re trying to push our way into the playoff picture. It’s a crucial part of the season.”

At 15-14-1-5, the Pirates have 36 points in 35 games, and are six points back of eighth-place Adirondack.

To help with what has become a depleted bench — particularly at forward — the Pirates signed a pair of players to Professional Tryout Agreements just prior to their harrowing trip to St. John’s, Newfoundland, which saw weather delays both in reaching the island and returning home.

Corey Trivino and Jesse Mychan have each played sparingly, but both have made solid first impressions.

“We didn’t know a lot about Trivino, but we got him into a couple of games on the trip to St. John’s,” Edwards said. “They were caught up in Toronto with the same weather delays we were having. But we got him into a couple games, and he’s been part of a few offensive chances, he’s been in the mix. What I see with him is a young player with good offensive upside.

“As far as Jesse goes, he’s a smart system player, he’s an energy guy,” Edwards added. “He’s going to have to continue to learn and become a productive player. We told him (Thursday), ‘This is your opportunity to show us what you’ve got.'”

The defensive unit got a boost recently with the return of rookie defender Connor Murphy, who was playing with the team’s parent club, the Phoenix Coyotes.

“He’s a 20-year-old, but he was our best defenseman when he left,” Edwards said. “We relied on him to play big minutes. They’re getting healthy up top, and it’s important for us to make sure he’s in a situation where he can improve, where he gets better and stays ready to compete.”

Another player who has come out of the woodwork this season for the Pirates has been goalie Louis Domingue. In the early part of the season, Domingue was one of three goalies Edwards believed could be on the team full time. With an injury to Mike Lee, Domingue rejoined the team in December.

“It’s a smaller sample size with him, but he’s played really well,” Edwards said. “He’s forcing us to play him more and in different situations. We played him back-to-back in games in St. John’s, and he lost the second one, but he played really well. There’s a good competition between him and (Mark) Visentin, and that’s healthy for everybody.”

On the front end, even with Trivino and Mychan, the Pirates are still thin, but help appears to be on the way soon. Brenden Shinnimin, Kyle Hagel, Keven Veilleux, Jordan Martinook and Lee are still out for a bit. Phil Lane is “close,” according to Edwards, as is Brandon Yip.

The Pirates play Springfield on Friday, and will host Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday. Worcester will travel to Lewiston on Tuesday, and Bridgeport returns to the Colisee on Friday, Jan. 24.

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