The Toronto Marlies put up three goals by the midway point of the first period and kept pulling away from there for a 9-2 victory at Cross Insurance Arena.

“For me personally, this is my 20th year coaching, and even though as you get older you lose some of your memory, but I think it’s my most embarrasing loss that I’ve been a part of,” Pirates coach Scott Allen said. “You don’t give up nine goals in your building in front of your fans. And I wan’t to publicly apologize to the fans because that’s not good enough.”

The Marlies (44-13-4-0) entered the night with an AHL-leading 90 points — 12 more than the next-best team — and proved their worth from the drop of the puck. Mark Arcobello scored before the five-minute mark, Tobias Lindberg scored 41 seconds later, and Colin Smith added a goal in the 11th minute to go up 3-0 and chase Pirates starting goalie Mike McKenna.

“Coming off the weekend that we had last weekend, the guys were pretty motivated today,” said Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe, whose team lost three games in three days. “Playing with a lead is something we want to do. We didn’t have that luxury last weekend. So to be able to get it today early in the game was nice.”

The Pirates (31-23-3-1) broke onto the scoreboard with just under five minutes left in the first, finally able to solve Marlies goalie Antoine Bibeau (a former Lewiston Maineiac). Wayne Simpson fed Wade Megan near the right post for the score.

“I thought the second half of the first period we were okay,” Allen said. “The best hockey we played was the last half of the first period. But too little.”

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Things soon went from bad to worse for the Pirates, despite ably killing off a penalty that straddled the first and second periods.

The Marlies scored their first goal of the second period nearly the same amount of time into the frame that they scored their first goal of the first. Brendan Leipsic scored on a goal that was originally called off, but after a quick review was deemed good. Portland skater Corban Knight tried to reel the puck in at the goal line with backup goalie Sam Brittain out of the net, but Knight was too late in stopping Leipsic’s from crossing the threshold.

That was the second Marlies goal to get reviewed in the game. A first-period try by Lindberg was stopped by McKenna at the goal line, and some disagreement from Lindberg sent him to the penalty box.

Lindberg wasn’t denied his second goal of the game a second time. Late in a Marlies power play the winger beat Brittain from the slot, making it 5-1 Toronto — which entered the game with an AHL-best 233 goals.

“We were feeling it today,” Keefe said. “We were moving the puck as well as we have in a long time. When we’re moving it like that we’re hard to play against.”

Greg McKegg gave the home fans something to cheer about just over a minute later, with his shot from the left circle skipping past Bibeau.

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After that it was only the Marlies cheering, and even that subsided as the lead grew to 8-2 by the end of the second period. Justin Holl, Connor Brown and Sam Carrick (on the power play) all lit the lamp. Brown’s goal was met with little fanfare from the road team, the game very much out of hand by then.

“It almost reaches a point where you have a feeling of helplessness,” Allen said.

Carrick’s goal was assisted by captain Andrew Campbell, who was an assistant captain fro the Pirates a season ago. Campbell’s blast from the point was deflected in by Carrick.

Brittain and Bibeau traded off some solid goaltending exhibitions, with Brittain making 10 saves in the first 10 minutes of the third, and Bibeau stringing together three saves in just over a minute 11 minutes in.

“That’s a challenge, I think, when the game’s out of hand,” Bibeau said. “That’s a challenge to just stay focused and don’t let the other team come back.”

Brittain was felled one last time by the Marlies before the game came to an end. Josh Leivo found the back of the net with five minutes left. Arcobello and Brown assisted on the goal to both pick up their fourth points of the night.

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Bibeau, who played for the Maineiacs in their final season (2010-11), finished with 23 saves for the Marlies to pick up his 21st win of the year.

“I loved my time with the Lewiston Maineiacs. Even today, my billet from when I played with the Maineiacs is here,” said Bibeau, who was playing in Maine for the first time since 2011. “I love coming back here, and it was a great game for us.”

Brittain (22) and McKenna (seven) combined to stop 29 of Toronto’s 38 shots.

Allen said the team had a “closed-door meeting” after the game to talk about what happened in the previous 60 minutes of hockey. The first-year Pirates coach — who took over the team midway through the season — said he’s not one to just throw away game film and move on.

“It’s not so easy to move by it,” Allen said, “because if we don’t learn from it now we’re in big trouble.”

The Pirates are back in action Saturday, on the road at Springfield, then host Hartford on Sunday.

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