Flames 4, Portland Pirates 3
By Aaron McCracken
Bring out the brooms, because the baby Flames are looking to sweep their 1st round Calder Cup playoff series! Steve Begin scored a pair of goals, including the winner with under nine minutes remaining, to pace the Saint John Flames to a 4-3 victory over the Portland Pirates.
Begin’s winning goal came just 24 seconds after the Pirates tied the game at 3-3 midway through the 3rd period. Begin took a long breakout pass from Derrick Walser and roofed it by Corey Hirsch, much to the delight of the 4123 hometown fans.
The Flames controlled the early part of this game and got on the board first when Marty Murray found Sergei Varlamov open in the slot. It was Varlamov’s 2nd goal in as many nights. Saint John went up 2-0 a few minutes later when Darrel Scoville knocked home a Chris Clark pass with the teams skating 4-on-4. After a Pirate power play goal, the Flames made it 3-1 on Begin’s first of the night, a redirection of a Steve Montador point shot. However the Flames undisciplined play cost them. With Jason Botterill off for goaltender interference, Mark Murphy blasted a rebound past Martin Brochu to make it 3-2. Midway through the third period, Martin Hlinka tied the score after a goalmouth scramble that featured three or four shots on Brochu. After Begin’s heroic effort to give the Flames the lead, Martin Brochu stood strong stopping several tough shots down the stretch including a wide open Brad Church with 20 seconds remaining. The Pirates put forth a much stronger effort, but the Flames were able to pull out a win and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
Boxscore ("Stayzer" is actually Chris St. Croix): http://scoreboard.canoe.ca/11425/FINA-89-AHL-POR-SNB-11425-1.html
1) Steve Begin, 2 goals including the game winner.
Murray – Varlamov – Botterill
Begin – Fata – Clark
Betts – Roche – Elomo
Doull – Dewar
Walser – St. Croix
Montador – Scoville
Mrozik – Dupont
Daniel Tkaczuk (concussion), Mike Martin (foot), and Gatean Royer (knee) were scratched. Saint John native Jeff Dewar dressed but didn’t see action.
Aaron McCracken is a freelance writer from New Brunswick. He covers the Saint John Flames for Calgary Puck / Fire on Ice. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org .