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Phantoms Appear to Hit Wall in 3-0 Loss to Milwaukee

Saturday, February 23, 2002

By David Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer

The Phantoms are out their game; the fans know it, the players know it, and the coach knows it. Three wins in their last ten games (3-4-3) coming into the night is indicative of a team not firing on all cylinders. Granted, there is the optimist here that will look at the Phantoms' record and say that the team is undefeated in six of ten games (three wins and three ties) but reality should quickly set in and indicate a need to look at the obvious. The injuries to Brad Tiley and John Slaney are significant; what makes these injuries overwhelming is that they come at a time when the team is struggling. Phantoms Head Coach John Stevens was quoted after the game as saying, "...I don't want to hear excuses that Slaney and Tiley not being here [is the cause]. It doesn't change the way that you compete and play the game". When asked if the team has hit the proverbial "wall" in sports acumen, he responded, "I sure hope not...when you're tired and you struggle you feel more's up to us to find ways to have starts with a good, strong work ethic from start to finish".

That wasn't the case last night. Similar to the start in Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Phantoms quickly got behind in the opening two minutes of the game. Last night, Admirals' Martin Bartek fired a wrist shot that beat Phantoms goalie Maxime Ouellet through traffic high to the stick side giving Milwaukee a 1-0 lead. Philadelphia generated 11 shots in the opening period but nothing could crack the Admirals' strong goaltending. The Phantoms' blue line corps was depleted further when Trenton Titans' call-up Ian Forbes was given a five minute major and a game misconduct for spearing at 9:13 of the second period. Playing shorthanded though, generated two excellent scoring chances for the Phantoms. Tomas Divisek went in alone on Admirals' goalie Chris Mason but shot the puck over the net. Less than a minute later, Divisek rang one off the short side post and the score remained 1-0 Milwaukee.

In the third period, Ouellet robbed Bartek who snuck behind the Phantoms' defense at the 4:28 mark. Following Divisek's tripping penalty at 11:27 of the third, Milwaukee's Brett Hauer scored his seventh goal of the season at 12:13 on a tipped near circle slap shot from Bubba Berenzweig. The Admirals quickly scored again at 13:28 when Berenzweig slid a backhand pass to Jeremy Stevenson who easily beat Ouellet following a 2-1 break. The still was reason for hope; Milwaukee had a record of 9-27-5-2 when scoring three or fewer goals but the Phantoms just could not get the sustained pressure and good shots. The Admirals' Chris Mason had a strong night in goal stopping all 22 shots he faced giving him his second shutout of the season and the team's third. The Phantoms' four hottest players: Guillaume Lefebvre (3-0-3) in his last two games, Mark Freer (1-2-3) in his last two games, Bruno St. Jacques (0-3-3) in his last two games, and Mark Greig (4-5-9) in his last six games were held to a total of five shots between them (only one in the third period).

Photos by Pedro Cancel

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