PORTLAND - Mike Lee stopped 31 of 32 shots in his first career AHL start to give the Portland Pirates a 3-1 win over the Manchester Monarchs Saturday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Lee's second victory followed his first win against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on December 8th in relief of Mark Visentin, and ties the VIP Cup series, presented by VIP Parts, Tires & Service at 4 games apiece.
The Pirates wasted no time getting on the board. Jordan Szwarz found Chris Summers in the slot, who buried a wrist shot passed Monarchs' starter Martin Jones for his second of the year just 27 seconds into the game. Darian Dziurzynski would add to the Pirates lead a little over a minute later, picking up a rebound in front and put it over Jones for his fifth of the year. With just 1.5 seconds remaining in the first period, Pirates' nemesis Tyler Toffoli would strike. Toffoli sent a laser of a wrist shot passed Portland starter Lee for his 20th goal of the season, and eighth in as many games against the Pirates.
Portland would be unable to capitalize on a power play early in the second, as former Lewiston Maineiac Marc-Andre Cliché went off for boarding at 3:42. However, the Pirates struck later in the period on a rare 4 on 3 power play. Chris Conner sent home a one timer off a Andy Miele pass for his eighth of the year at 14:26 of the second, giving the Pirates a 3-1 lead. Newcomer Boris Valabik introduced himself to the Portland fans by dropping the gloves with Manchester's Anthony Stewart late in the period.
The Pirates would fail to take advantage of a power play 4:49 into the third, when David Kolomatis was sent off for interference. Despite a late tripping call to Dziurzynski at 18:16 and an empty Manchester net, the Pirates killed off the 6 on 4 to hang on for the win.
The Pirates improve to 25-16-1-1 on the season, while Mike Lee wins his second start, and is now 2-0-0-0, having allowed 2 goals on 61 shots in his AHL career.. The Monarchs fall to 21-19-2-2, while Martin Jones drops to 11-14-2-4. The win snaps a three game losing streak for the Pirates, while tying up the VIP Cup at 4 games each. For more information on the VIP Cup, visit www.vip-cup.com
The Pirates get back to action next Friday night when they face the Worcester Sharks.