LEWISTON — Two weeks away from the Androscoggin Bank Colisee did nothing to help the Portland Pirates’ propensity to lose in the building, despite playing well enough to win the contest in the estimation of the team’s head coach.

In their first game in the building since March 9, the Pirates surrendered three first-period goals and never recovered, falling 5-3 to the Worcester Sharks in front of an announced crowd of 1,667.

“We certainly played well enough to win that game,” Pirates coach Ray Edwards said. “First period, we out-chanced them 8-4, and we were down 3-0.”

Louis Domingue, handed the keys to the crease this week with the emergency call up of Mark Visentin, was under the weather and tried to play the game, but left after one period.

“He wasn’t feeling good,” Edwards said. “With (Visentin) getting called up, we figured we’d give him the start, but he was not feeling good. It’s too bad.”

By that point, the Pirates already trailed by three, the Sharks peppering the ailing goalie with 19 shots in the opening frame.

Portland struck back in the second for a pair, but the Sharks kept the Pirates at arm’s length after a quick strike on a breakaway.

“We have to manage that situation better,” Edwards said.

In the third, the Pirates again drew within a goal late, but the Sharks struck with an empty-netter to seal the victory. This, despite a lengthy 5-on-3 power play.

“We had, I think three point-blank chances,” Edwards said. “All you can do is get the chances to score. The execution to get the chances was good, but we couldn’t put the puck in the net.”

The loss also puts Portland on the brink of playoff elimination. Any combination of Portland failing to gain points or Providence earning them that equals three will eliminate the Pirates from playoff contention.

“There’s (still) a lot to play for,” Edwards said. “There’s jobs on the line, there’s the possibility to go up to Phoenix. There’s a lot to play for.”

The first period went all Worcester’s way. Nine different players recorded one point as the Sharks built a 3-0 lead on goals from Matt Tennyson, Travis Oleksuk and Matt Pelech.

The Pirates also honored Worcester coach Roy Sommer during a first-period media timeout for coaching in his 1,257th AHL game, a league record. Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Gathers held previous record of 1,256 games.

“Just to be able to have that many games coached is amazing,” Edwards said. “I sent a text before the game, congratulating him. We’ve had some spirited battles the past three years, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that, anyone who can coach that many games is doing something right.”

The Pirates switched goaltenders in the second period, calling upon rookie Chris Rawlings. Domingue had an illness before the game, tried to go, but after one period couldn’t play anymore.

Behind Rawlings, who played 40 minutes in one game at the end of last season, Portland started to find traction — and defense. After allowing 19 shots in the first frame, the Pirates allowed only seven in the second.

Later in the period, Lucas Lessio beat Sharks keeper Troy Grosenick to pull the Pirates within two, and 1:33 later, Andy Miele netted his 24th of the season to draw the home team within one at 3-2.

The Sharks sprung Pelech on a breakaway at 17:41 of the second, though, and he beat Rawlings 5-hole from the low left circle to reestablish a two-goal advantage.

Note: The Pirates were playing their first game at the Colisee since it became public knowledge that former assistant coach Mike Minard has been charged with solicitation of a child to commit a prohibited act and sexual misconduct with a child younger than 14. Minard admitted to meeting the alleged victim, who is from Waldo County, at a Pirates game earlier this season. The Phoenix Coyotes, the Pirates’ parent club, released Minard as soon as they found out about the allegations. Members of the Pirates’ organization declined comment on the subject Wednesday.


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