09/27/2013 6:38 AM
Pirates prepare for new season
The Portland Pirates open up this year's training camp hoping to improve on a successful season in 2012-13.
Finishing with a 41-30-3-2 record for 87 points, the Pirates earned a sixth place finish in the Eastern Conference and a playoff berth. While they were ousted by the Syracuse Crunch in the first round, the season produced some highlights for Portland--Chris Brown, a rookie fresh out of college, scored a team high 29 goals and Andy Miele led the team in assists (34) and points (53).
With both Brown and Miele still up with Phoenix, the Pirates opened up training camp on Sept. 23 looking to build off of last season's progress.
The Pirates are returning many players from last lear, most notably Brendan Shinnimin, Phil Lane, Jordan Martinook, Mathieu Brodeur and Mark Visentin. The returning group provides a solid core for coach Ray Edwards, a core he is excited about coaching again.
"All of our returning guys are great kids," Edwards said. "They're great players, we had a lot of fun last year with that group, so for me its exciting to have all of those guys back."
Darian Dziurzynski is one of those returning players and while he admits it is a little "bitter sweet" to be coming back to Portland, he is excited to get the season underway.
"Obviously everyone here wanted to play up in Phoenix, but it's nice to get back to the city," Dziurzynski said. "It's a great place to live in, it's a new facility here (in Saco), we're all pretty pumped up for the year."
With the veterans come a list of potential new comers. Greg Coburn, Brenden Walker, Josh Currie, Philippe Halley and Kirill Tulupov are just a few of the players trying to crack the Pirates lineup.
Edwards is intrigued by some of the new skaters and happy with the way they are working. The Pirates scrimmaged against the University of New Brunswick on Wednesday, giving the coaches a chance to see some of the newer faces in game action, something Edwards was eager to see.
"I thought we had a lot of young players that played well in that game," Edwards said. In particular, forwards Philippe Halley and Josh Currie jumped out to the coach.
"They both scored and both made things happen offensively and so were going to keep watching those guys and see what they have to offer."
Training camp has been intense from Day One with the players jumping from drill to drill, practicing a variety of skills--breakouts, forechecking, odd-man rushes, shooting, passing--everything the team needs to get ready for the season. Edwards is trying to get the players to learn the way he wants them to play, the system, structure and philosophy he wants them to follow.
"What we do here is 99 percent the way it's done up top," Edwards said, referring to the system Dave Tippett has put in place for the Coyotes. "We play the same, so the guys that were up top get it right away. The newer guys have to learn it more quickly. That's what this week's for."
Obviously, with cuts to be made, the players are working furiously to show they are deserving of a spot.
"We're all here to make a hockey team right now," Dziurzynski said. "The roster spots are not set in stone, so it's definitely intense."
Things will become more intense as the Coyotes continue to size up their own roster--on Thursday forwards Andy Miele and Jordan Szwarz were both assigned to the Pirates, adding to the number of players in Portland's camp. Phoenix still has 25 men in camp and need to get down to the required 23 man roster by Monday Sept. 30.
Edwards also has some tough decisions to make as the Pirates open their season in less than two weeks on Oct. 9 against the Manchester Monarchs in Lewiston.