SACO — The Portland Pirates capped a tumultuous season in fitting fashion Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd of 550 at MHG Ice Centre.

After holding a two-goal lead in the first period, and a one-goal advantage to start the third, the Pirates allowed a pair of St. John’s tallies in the final frame and fell, 5-4, in the teams’ regular-season finale.

“That was a microcosm of the year,” Portland coach Ray Edwards said.

The loss is the 10th consecutive setback for the Pirates, seven of which came in regulation time. At 24-39-3-10, Portland concludes its worst statistical season in its 21-year history.

The game was moved to MHG Ice Centre last week after a scheduling conflict with the Kora Shrine Circus at the Pirates’ home this season, the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

The Pirates’ precarious on-goal lead in the third was safe only briefly. Thanks to a pair of penalties, St. John’s attacked with two extra skaters and surfaced with a goal just 1:10 into the final frame when Jerome Samson stuffed the puck past Pirates keeper Louis Domingue.

The IceCaps took their first lead at 8:42 when Josh Lunden netted his fifth of the year on a turnaround slapper in front.

“Penalties got us in trouble,” Edwards said. “You take four minors in the second period, you lose all your momentum and can’t get everyone in the game. Then start of the third period, you take a hooking penalty and now it’s 5-on-3, now you’re scrambling a little bit.”

The Pirates equalized on a penalty shot by Brandon Yip, his second goal of the game, but the lead lasted just 1:13 as Lunden added another from in tight. The Pirates’ attempt to equalize with the goaltender pulled in the final 30 seconds fell short.

“We fought back and tied it, ands then the next shift we defended like a pee-wee. You can’t turn the puck over like that and defend like that.”

The Pirates may not have set the world on fire in the opening period, but they escaped with a two-goal advantage.

The Portland power play accounted for the first goal. Andy Miele won the puck back to the Connor Murphy at the point. Murphy slid the puck across the blue line to Brandon Gormley, who blasted it past St. John’s keeper Michael Hutchinson for a 1-0 lead.

The Pirates added to their lead nearly eight minutes later on a 2-on-1, with Tobias Rieder finishing a feed from Jordan Martinook at the right post.

The IceCaps started to chip away in the second. Kael Mouillierat netted his team’s first at 4:46 of the frame, collecting a rebound to Domingue’s left and pushing it into the cage to cut the home team’s lead in half.

Mouillierat assisted on the IceCaps’ tying tally at 15:39 in a scrum in front of the cage as John Albert finally tucked the puck home on the blocker side.

But this time, the Pirates bounced right back, regaining their lead at 17:32 when Brandon Yip picked off the puck in the center zone and broke in alone on Hutchinson, roofing the puck over the keeper’s glove for a 3-2 Portland lead.

A penalty to end the second period to Brett Hextall and another to Connor Murphy in the opening seconds of the third set the stage for the IceCaps to again equalize. Jerome Samson finished the visitors’ chance in front with a shot that slid through Domingue’s pads. Albert and Jason Jaffrey added assists on the power play goal.

Lunden’s pair of goals bookending the Yip penalty shot capped the scoring, and the season.


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