The Portland Jr. Pirates enjoyed their best month of the season yet, winning five of their last eight before the end of November.
Helping the Pirates to gain some big points was their leading point-scorer Haralds Egle and also a rising defenseman in the league, Bradley Smelstor.
These are two players in particular whom general manager Brad Church can see in the NCAA Division 1 ranks down the road.
Egle probably has longer to go, especially as a 1996-born player. He originates from Latvia, and the Pirates were able to utilize their contacts through associated ventures of the Maine Hockey Group.
“We have some international contacts through our Selects Hockey spring/summer programs. Last year, he played for the Green Mountain Glades and came over in the transition with the relocation,” said Church. “Haralds is a top 20 scorer in the league, and he certainly leads our team in scoring. He’s attracting a lot of Division 1 attention.”
Egle has scored 10 goals and 22 points in 21 games.
“He is just a gifted players,” said Church. “In my mind, he has pro upside. He’s a ’96- born player with the ability to dominate at times. He’s just a pure talent.”
There are some aspects of Egle’s game that the Pirates want to smooth out before they send him on to the next level wherever, and whenever, that may be.
“He needs to learn to play within the system, play away from the puck and be reliable defensively,” said Church. “It’ll come. He is a young player, and we’ll continue to drive those things with him. We’re hoping he can play at the highest level possible and we’re looking forward to working with him for years to come.”
Smelstor came to the Pirates from St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H.
“We brought him in this year and his game has improved, which has allowed us to improve as a team,” said Church. “He’s not a very flashy player, but he’s steady, consistent and strong. And he’s a nasty defenseman – we match him up against the other teams’ top lines consistently.”
The Pirates hope that there is a Division 1 college out there looking for a good, solid defensive defenseman for the future.
“I think he’s a Division 1 defenseman. He goes a little unnoticed because he doesn’t put up big numbers,” said Church. “He’s a quiet leader of our team, he’s not a rah-rah type of guy, but in elevating his game, he has helped our whole group.”