ORONO – Former University of Maine two-time All-American Michel Leveille said he hoped returning to the Alfond Arena would lead to his first goal of the season for the Manchester Monarchs during their American Hockey League game against the Portland Pirates in front of 2,797 Tuesday night.
But even with his go-ahead goal and a weird 120-footer by teammate Marty Murray that staked the Monarchs to a 3-1 lead after two periods, the Pirates stormed back in the third period to tie it 3-3 on goals by Aaron Slattengren and Colton Fretter before winning in a shootout.
Portland won the shootout 2-1 to pick up the extra point as Tim Kennedy and Mark Mancari scored for the Pirates while Vladimir Dravecky was the only scorer for Manchester.
The AHL uses five shooters apiece in its shootouts unlike the NHL, which uses three before going to sudden-death.
Leveille and former University of Maine linemate Teddy Purcell had chances in the shootout but Leveille hit the right post and Manchester goalie Adam Dennis, who came on at the outset of the third period, got his glove on Purcell’s shot.
Murray hit the crossbar during the shootout.
“I just tried to make myself big,” said Dennis, whose relief work was critical in enabling his teammates to come back.
Early in the third period, he was on his side and made a great arm save off Gabe Gauthier to keep his team within 3-1.
Dennis said he caught a break “because [Gauthier] wasn’t able to lift it.”
Moments later, Slattengren sliced the lead to 3-2 at the 5:17 mark when he scored off a wraparound to the left of goalie Jon Quick, a former UMass standout.
“We were cycling the puck and I threw it at the net and got a lucky bounce,” said Slattengren.”That’s what we wanted to do in the third period: throw pucks to the net. We know we didn’t play our best in the first two periods.”
Fretter, who played four years at Michigan State, drew the Pirates even 7:02 later with a backhander from between face-off dots that glanced in off Quick.
“I think it went under his arm,” said Fretter.
“We played a terrible third period,” said Leveille, who broke a 1-1 tie early in the second period when Murray fired the puck purposely wide and Leveille beat Portland’s Chris Butler to the puck, cut across the creaase and slid a backhander past goalie Jhonas Enroth’s left leg and the post.
“I was able to create some speed and Murray made a great play,” said Leveille.
Murray’s bouncer eluded the left pad of Enroth to give the Monarchs their two-goal lead with one second remaining in the middle period.
Manchester’s Andrew Campbell and Portland’s Colin Murphy swapped late first-period goals before Leveille broke the 1-1 tie 2:39 into the second period and Murray extended the lead with his fluke shorthanded goal.
Campbell opened the scoring when former Denver University star Gauthier stickhandled cleverly from right to left across the high slot and sent a chest-high wrist shot toward the goal that Campbell redirected into the net.
It was a well-deserved goal for the Monarchs, who carried play until that point.
It was Gauthier’s goal in the 2004 NCAA championship game that gave Denver a 1-0 win over Maine in the Bears’ last title game appearance.
Former UMass defenseman Mike Kostka set up Murphy’s breakaway equalizer 2:24 later with a pinpoint pass up the middle of the ice from the extended goal line to the far blue line.
Murphy had snuck behind the defense and scored by directing a backhander along the ice through Quick’s five-hole.
Portland outshot Manchester 34-32.
PIRATES 3, MONARCHS 3
Manchester (10-10-0-4) 1 2 0 0 – 3
Portland (15-6-1-2) 1 0 2 0 – 3
(Portland wins shootout 2-1)
First period – 1. Man, Campbell 2 (Gauthier), 15:47; 2. Por, Murphy 3 (Kostka, Enroth), 18:11. Penalties: Por, Weber, holding, 10:49; Man, Westgarth, slashing, 18:35.
Second period – 3. Man, Leveille 1 (Murray, Campbell), 2:39 (pp); 4. Man, Murray 3 (Bagnall), 19:59 (sh). Penalties: Por, Zagrapan, hooking, :58; Man, Westgarth, roughing, 5:04; Maine, Holloway, unsportsmanlike conduct, 12:27; Maine, Bagnall, tripping, 15:25; Man, Kidd, double-minor for high sticking, 16:56.
Third period – 5. Por, Slattengren 4 (Hunter, Bouck), 5:17; 6. Por, Fretter 9 (Schutz, Gragnani), 12:19. Penalties: Por, Fretter, interference, 1:32.
Overtime – No scoring. Penalties: Por, Weber, tripping, 2:29.
Shootout scorers: Portland: Kennedy, Mancari; Misses: Gragnani, Slattengren, Murphy. Manchester: Dravecky; Misses: Leveille, Purcell, Lewis, Murray.
Shots on goal: Manchester 12-8-9-3-32; Portland 6-12-14-2-34
Goaltenders: Manchester, Quick (34 shots-31 saves); Portland: Enroth (20-17), Dennis (0:00 of 3rd, 12-12)
Power-play opportunities: Manchester 1 of 4, Portland 0 of 6
Correction: A shorter version of this article ran in the State edition.