In the same building that housed one of the most iconic fights in boxing history, the Portland Pirates polished off the St. John’s IceCaps with a knockout Sunday evening in Lewiston, Me.
The Pirates sent the IceCaps back into the loss column with a 6-1 thumping, the setback coming on the heels of a 5-3 IceCaps win over the Manchester Monarchs Saturday night in New Hampshire, which had snapped a five-game losing streak.
At the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, 35 miles north of Portland, Chris Brown scored two goals, and Mike Lee stopped 31 shots for the Pirates, who improved their Atlantic Division-leading record to 30-18-1-1, good for third place in the Eastern Conference.
The IceCaps, however, fall to 22-28-1-2, and are only four points from the bottom of the East, and from last overall in the 30-team league.
Sunday’s tilt was one of a number of games the Pirates will play in Lewiston this season as the Cumberland County Civic Centre in Portland undergoes renovations.
Opened in 1958, the Colisee was once home to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Lewiston MAINEiacs. But it’s best known as the site of the rematch between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston in 1964, where the famous photo of the man who would become known as Muhammad Ali standing over a knocked-down Liston was taken.
Forty-nine years later, the Pirates served a knockout punch to the IceCaps who, with eight points and six teams between them and a playoff spot, are pretty much out of the AHL post season picture.
The Pirates have owned the IceCaps this season, going 3-1, including a pair of shutout wins.
And if not for Jason Gregoire’s goal, with 30 seconds left in regulation time, Portland would have made it three straight games with a shutout over St. John’s.
Brenan Shinnimin, Evan Brophey, Phil Lane and Alexandre Bolduc also scored for the Pirates.
Trailing 3-0 after 40 minutes, the IceCaps had a glorious opportunity to close the gap early in the third period with a five-on-three advantage for 1:38, thanks to minors to Mathieu Brodeur and Boris Valabik.
But the team which has struggled to score all season came up empty, finishing the night zero-for-seven on the power play.
The IceCaps played the third straight game without defenceman Derek Meech. The blueline included three rookies — Will O’Neill, Julian Melchiori and Cody Sol.
IceCaps 5, Monarchs 3
At the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, the IceCaps came back from a 2-0 deficit to break their losing skid.
Carl Klingberg, Aaron Gagnon, Patrice Cormier, Spencer Machacek and Jason Jaffray, into an open net, scored for St. John’s.
Mark Dekanich, who made 28 saves on 33 shots in Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Monarchs, was chased from the St. John’s net after allowing two goals on five shots.
ECHL callup (Ontario Reign) Chris Carrozzi finished up and was solid in picking up the win, stopping 15 of 16 shots.
Monarchs 5, IceCaps 2
After taking a 1-0 lead at 1:44 of the second period on Eric O’Dell’s 13th goal, the IceCaps watched Manchester get consecutive markers from Tyler Toffoli, Anthony Stewart and Brandon Kozin.
Toffoli and Kozin finished the night with two goals apiece. Jaffray had the other St. John’s goal.
St. John’s continues its six-game road trip Wednesday night in Hartford, Conn., against the Connecticut Whale.
Meanwhile, a game between the Springfield Falcons and Adirondack Phantoms Sunday afternoon in Springfield, Mass., was suspended in the second period when Falcons forward Wade MacLeod suffered a seizure following a hit into the glass during the second period.
According to an AHL news release, MacLeod was brought by ambulance to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Players and coaching staffs on each team unanimously agreed to postpone the game.
It will be finished at a later date.