The long-awaited joining of the Buffalo Sabres and Portland Pirates became official this afternoon in Maine. The Pirates held a news conference at 1 p.m. to announce the Sabres will be their new parent club.

‘We are just thrilled for this announcement,’ Pirates managing owner Brian Petrovek said by phone. ‘There’s a lot of energy and high xpectations. I think it’s going to be a good turning point for us.’

The minor-league affiliation agreement has been rumored since December, when the Sabres announced their 29-year relationship with Rochester would end after the 2007-08 season. Portland was eliminated from the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference playoffs late last month, and it ended its three-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks last week.

Story as published at