Phantoms Lose to Bears 4-3 as Winless Streak Continues
Saturday, March 2, 2002
By David Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer
For the 12,676 fans at the First Union Spectrum last night, much of the excitement was the result of Nickelodeon's Sponge Bob Square Pants Night. The Phantoms finished the month of February with a 2-6-4 record, the worst month of the 2001-02 season. In March of last year, Philadelphia had its best month of the season with an 8-4-1 record. The way the Phantoms played last night against the Hershey Bears, they will be hard pressed to challenge last year's success.
A combined (-) 11 in the first and third periods this season, the Phantoms got off to a quick start with a goal by Mike Watt at 1:44 on the backhand from Mark Greig and Randy Perry. Hershey's Vaclav Nederost tied the score 1-1 at 2:51, beating Phantoms' goalie Maxime Ouellet to the stick side. The Bears went up 2-1 when leading scorer Jeff Daw notched his 20th of the season on a nice deflection of an Alex Riazantsev slap shot from the point. Hershey's Jordan Krestanovich made the score 3-1 when his wrist shot beat Ouellet at 17:43. The cat and mouse play teased Ouellet out of position and Krestanovich fired a wrist shot that found net on the far side. Ouellet, after stopping 8 of 11 Hershey shots, was pulled in favor of the AHL's goals-against average leader, Neil Little. Mark Freer brought the Phantoms back to within one when he beat Bears' goalie Phil Sauve high to the stick side. The Bears went up 4-2 on Brett Clark's sixth goal of the season at 8:32 of the second period. While on the power play, Clark slid down the slot a fired a one-timer beating Neil Little. Mark Greig brought Philadelphia back to 4-3 on a nice feed from Pavel Brendl at 11:40 of the third.
Special teams killed the Phantoms last night. Coming into the game, Philadelphia led the league in penalty killing with an overall average of 86.9 percent. Last night, Hershey was 2-3 with the man advantage in a game where defense and back checking were noticeable absent. The Phantoms concluded their longest home stand of the season as a team in disarray. Coach John Stevens was queried as to whether he thought the road would be friendlier to a struggling Phantoms team: ...it doesn't matter whether we're home or on the road, we have to find a way to win hockey games...we have to be ready when the puck drops; you can't take one shift off. We still felt we would win the hockey game. The last thing you want to do is give another team a lead when you're struggling. Frustrated yet optimistic Phantoms Captain Mark Greig stated: ...every team hits a bump; our bump is here. This is what makes winners: adversity and obstacles.
Photos by Pedro Cancel