SACO, Maine — The last time Nick Deslauriers played hockey in Lewiston, he was a nondescript, puck-moving defenseman for the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Assuming he makes the Manchester Monarchs’ final roster, the next time Deslauriers skates in Lewiston, he’ll be a marked man.
The Manchester defenseman-turned-forward found the back of the net four times Saturday, leading the visiting Monarchs to a 5-2 win over the Portland Pirates at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco in the Pirates’ lone “home” preseason contest.
“I just kept moving my feet, I still don’t know the [offensive] system that much,” Deslauriers said.
“He embraced the idea of going up and playing some left wing,” Manchester coach Mark Morris said. “We’re mainly defensemen right now in camp. He was really excited about the chance. Who know, we might have found us a power forward who can score a few goals.”
Deslauriers, who scored four goals all of last season as a defender in his first year with Manchester, downplayed his offensive outburst.
“I hope the expectations are not too high now,” Deslauriers said. “I’m here to help the team, so I’ll do whatever Mark and the organization needs me to do.”
For coaching staffs on both benches Saturday, the game wasn’t necessarily all about winning or losing, but trying to piece together the puzzles that are their respective lineups. Manchester, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, and Portland (Phoenix Coyotes) are still unsure exactly which players will be with the team when the NHL teams make their final cuts.
“Manch was a lot harder on the puck, I thought we were light,” Pirates’ coach Ray Edwards said. “But, it’s a way to evaluate. It’s a lot better to evaluate against an American Hockey League team than a college team, and that’s the difference. A lot of these younger guys are out there. That’s where we got caught up. We looked light in a lot of areas, along the walls. You saw Manchester, they’re a good forechecking team and they put us in situations we didn’t handle very well.”
And the Pirates, who will play their games at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston this season, are intrigued by many of the players currently on the team on a tryout basis.
Returning forward Brenden Shinnimin was a bright spot for the Pirates on Saturday, registering a goal and an assist. His linemate, Brandon McMillan, had a pair of assists.
“We had a couple practices together,” Shinnimin said, “but when you can find that kind of chemistry in a short amount of time … we had a couple goals and I thought we played well together.”
Shinnimin, McMillan and Phil Lane worked together all game as the staff begins to test combinations for the regular season.
“That line worked well, had a nice goal,” Edwards said. “It looks like there might be some early chemistry, but we’ll see.”
Daine Todd, a defenseman on a tryout with the team, scored the Pirates’ second goal, crashing the net hard to chip a rebound past Manchester goalie Jean-Francois Berube. That goal made it 2-1 Portland 8:47 into the first period.
Deslauriers took over from there, netting his second 6:40 into the middle frame to knot things at 2-2. His hat trick goal at 19:57 of the second period gave the visitors their first lead of the game, and after Maxim Kitsyn made it 4-2 midway through the third, Deslauriers pounced on a rebound at the right post with 4:17 to play in the game for his fourth.
“I liked the first period for us, but after that, it wasn’t very good,” Edwards said.
Of particular concern, Edwards said, was the defense.
“We didn’t protect the puck going back, we left the net front a couple of times,” Edwards said. “It wasn’t sharp.”
“No matter what kind of game it is, you want to win,” Shinniman said. “At the same time we understand, guys are learning new things. It’s more going out there and playing, doing what you can do and not worrying about structure.”
The same two teams will meet again Sunday in Portland’s final preseason tuneup. Portland’s home-opener is on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Colisee in Lewiston.
Tickets and pricing
The Pirates announced Saturday a new ticket pricing structure for the home schedule, which is now going to be played entirely at the Colisee in Lewiston.
Season tickets are available for $10 per game with a number of benefits, and new group and flex packs are available as well. In addition, the team announced Saturday it is introducing an All Access Experience, as well as Broomball and a Family Pack.
Season tickets for the team’s 38 games at the Colisee are $380 — each game is $10. Pirates season ticket holders will enjoy benefits including the Pirates’ Never a Wasted Ticket exchange program, the ability to purchase Calder Cup Tickets in advance, and an invitation to the private team skate and season ticket holder party. In addition, Pirates season ticket holders enjoy a 10 percent discount on merchandise at home games and at the Pirates’ merchandise store.
Group tickets will also be available for $10 per person for groups of 10 or more.
The Pirates’ All Access Experience is $14 per person for groups of 10 or more and features the benefits of the group experience with the added benefit of a private locker room tour, the ability to sit on the Pirates’ bench during warmups, and seats on the glass for the game. For groups of 25 or more, groups can play a game of broomball on the Colisee ice prior to the game, during intermission, or after the game.
The Pirates’ Family Pack will be $58, and will include four tickets to the game, four hot dogs, four bags of chips and four drinks.
The Pirates’ Flex Pack is made up of 10 flex vouchers at $10 each ($100), good at any Pirates home game. Flex tickets can be redeemed for the best available seats for any game at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee box office.
The Pirates are also offering a VIP parking pass for the 2013-14 season at $190, which includes a reserved space in the VIP lot at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Pirates individual tickets will go on sale Monday, Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. and can be purchased by calling the Colisee Box Office at 783-2009, ext. 525. Tickets can also be purchased on the Colisee’s website,www.thecolisee.com, as well as at the new PortlandPirates.com, which will be launched at a date to be announced.
Individual game tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for youth, seniors, and students. There will be a two-dollar day-of-game surcharge for individual tickets.