By Brian Ring

Portland, ME, April 21, 2011 – The Connecticut Whale were defeated by the Portland Pirates, 5-4, Thursday night before 6,260 in attendance at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Connecticut now trails Portland, three games to two, in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series.

CT WhaleMark Mancari and Dennis Persson both tallied three points for the Pirates to pace Portland’s offense in the win. Kris Newbury scored twice and added an assist for the Whale. Untimely penalties, however, ultimately cost Connecticut the game.

“It keeps coming back to the little things,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “The majority of our guys battled hard. But it’s the penalties and little mistakes that take us out of it.”

The Pirates struck midway through the first, as Mancari fired a shot from long range that fooled Whale starting goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris and snuck in beneath the crossbar at 11:28. The goal was the first in Portland’s last 25 chances on the power-play, and was Mancari’s first goal of the series. Mark Voakes and Paul Byron both assisted on the score.

Travis Turnbull extended the lead to 2-0 at 17:47 of the first period, beating Grumet-Morris on a shot from the high slot for his first point of the series. Corey Tropp made the primary pass, earning his third helper of the series, with Persson also assisting.

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AHL Rookie of the Year Luke Adam then scored for the Pirates to make it a 3-0 Portland advantage just 45 seconds into the second period. The goal chased Grumet-Morris (three goals-against on 16 shots), who seconds earlier had been hit in the head by a hard shot from Matt Ellis.

Mancari’s shot rebounded off of the pads of Grumet-Morris and to Adam, who backhanded the puck past the Whale netminder. Persson recorded his second assist of the game on the play.

Cameron Talbot, making his first career pro playoff appearance, replaced Grumet-Morris at that point and went the rest of the way, absorbing the loss with two goals-against on 24 shots.

Newbury scored on the power-play for the Whale 4:28 into the second period, as he managed to bury a rebound past Portland goaltender David Leggio (34 saves) to cut the Pirates’ lead to 3-1. Brodie Dupont and Chad Kolarik collected the assists on the goal, which was Newbury’s first point of the series.

The Pirates temporarily regained their three-goal lead as Dennis McCauley scored his first of the series off of a two-on-one with Tropp 9:03 into the second.

But Newbury scored his second of the night for the Whale just 21 seconds later, putting a high shot from the right wing boards past Leggio to decrease Connecticut’s deficit to 4-2.

The momentum continued for the Whale at 12:03, as Chad Kolarik scored his second in as many games to close the gap to 4-3, Connecticut’s second power-play goal of the game. The puck was deflected in off of Leggio as the puck was bobbling around in mid-air. Newbury recorded his third point of the game with an assist, with John Mitchell also chipping in a helper.

The Whale temporarily tied it when Dupont deposited a pass from Kelsey Tessier to knot the score at four apiece just 1:36 into the third. Defenseman Blake Parlett also assisted on Dupont’s first goal of the Whale’s first-round series.

The Pirates regained the lead, though, on Mark Parrish’s goal just 1:08 later at 2:44, with Persson and Mancari both collecting their third point of the game with the assists. The Whale failed to clear the puck from in front of their own net while killing Dupont’s penalty, which proved to be the turning point of the game, and Parrish buried his chance for the go-ahead fifth goal.

The series will now switch to Hartford, as the Whale attempt to stave off elimination on Saturday night at the XL Center  in Game Six (7:00). Should the Whale win that game, there will be a decisive Game Seven in Portland on Monday night (7:00).

Game Six tickets are available at the XL Center ticket office, through TicketMaster Charge-by-Phone at 800-745-3000 and on-line at

Connecticut Whale 4 at Portland Pirates 5
Thursday, April 21, 2011 – Cumberland County Civic Center

Connecticut 0 3 1 – 4
Portland 2 2 1 – 5

1st Period-1, Portland, Mancari 1 (Voakes, Byron), 11:28 (PP). 2, Portland, Turnbull 1 (Tropp, Persson), 17:47. Penalties-Zuccarello Ct (goaltender interference), 8:28; Dupont Ct (slashing), 10:16.

2nd Period-3, Portland, Adam 2 (Mancari, Persson), 0:45. 4, Connecticut, Newbury 1 (Dupont, Kolarik), 4:28 (PP). 5, Portland, McCauley 1 (Tropp, O’Hanley), 9:03. 6, Connecticut, Newbury 2   9:24. 7, Connecticut, Kolarik 2 (Mitchell, Newbury), 12:03 (PP). Penalties-Conboy Por (cross-checking), 1:33; Adam Por (high-sticking), 4:10; Bickel Ct (roughing), 11:26; Byron Por (slashing), 11:26; Conboy Por (roughing), 11:26; Roloff Por (high-sticking), 16:10; McCauley Por (boarding), 19:32.

3rd Period-8, Connecticut, Dupont 1 (Parlett, Tessier), 1:36. 9, Portland, Parrish 1 (Persson, Mancari), 2:44 (PP). Penalties-Dupont Ct (tripping), 1:41; Hagelin Ct (high-sticking), 5:14.

Shots on Goal-Connecticut 9-15-14-38. Portland 13-17-10-40.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 2 / 5; Portland 2 / 4.
Goalies-Connecticut, Grumet-Morris 2-2-0 (16 shots-13 saves); Talbot 0-1-0 (24 shots-22 saves). Portland, Leggio 3-2-0 (38 shots-34 saves).
Referees-David Banfield (44), Chris Brown (86).
Linesmen-Landon Bathe (80), Joe Ross (92).