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New Look Roster, Same Result; Phantoms Fall 2-1 to Bears

Saturday, March 23, 2002

By David Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer

The Phantoms and Bears played at the beginning of the month (a 4-3 loss) and since that time, some things have changed and some stayed the same. The Phantoms have gone 3-5 including last night's game since that loss. In the twelve games preceding the March 1 game against the Bears, the Phantoms were 2-6-4. Not only did the Phantoms see their Southern Division lead evaporate but they were overtaken by the Norfolk Admirals and these Hershey Bears. Coming off a 2-0 victory Wednesday night against the Wilkes-Barre Penguins, Philadelphia lacked the sixty minute, both ends of the ice effort that is necessary to win games. The Phantoms Mike Watt got things started when he deflected a shot from Jim Vandermeer for his ninth goal of the season at 3:07 of the game. For the Bears, the defense was the offense last night as both goals came from blue liners. Hershey tied the game at 1:17 of the second on Brett Clark's shot off the face-off beating Phantoms' goalie Corey Hirsch. It was Hirsch's first appearance since a loss against Springfield on March 10. With 5:05 to go in the game, Jaroslav Obsut scored on the power-play following a hooking call on David Harlock, beating Hirsch up high. To Hirsch's credit, he played outstanding last night; it was the offense that let him down. In 23 games with the Portland Pirates this year, he posted a 6-12-5 records (2.67 GAA). In a game decided by special teams, it was the Phantoms failure to capitalize (0-5) and the Bears ability to capitalize (1-5) that made the difference in the game. We've had trouble all year scoring goals and special teams are going to be a big factor. Tonight we lost a special teams game they scored a power play goal with five minutes left to go in the hockey game when they needed it. We've got to find a way to score goals now; when you only give up two goals, you've got to find a way to win said Head Coach, John Stevens. Considering the events of the last week, the teams played a more consistent game compared to their earlier game against Hershey. Still, the intangibles had to factor into the outcome.

In professional sports, the concept of team chemistry is often undervalued by the fan. Egos, personalities, injuries, and contracts (value and other issues) contribute to a team's effectiveness in the locker room and on the playing field. Trades (the ones made and the ones not made) also affect a team's chemistry. As the team limps into the Calder Cup playoffs, much can be said about the team's new look (and old problems). The Phantoms were struck with the injury bug hard losing key players such as John Slaney, Brad Tiley, Kirby Law, and Brad Chalmers to injury but that did not prevent the front office from making change. Within the course of three weeks much has changed for Philadelphia. The two goalies on the roster are no longer there (Neil Little is on recall to the Flyers and Maxime Ouellet was traded this past week). Three defensemen are gone (Joe DiPenta, Randy Perry, and Francis Lessard) and Kristian Kudroc and David Harlock are here to take their spots. Offensively, Todd Fedoruk (reassigned from the Flyers) and Jarrod Skalde are new while Craig Brunel, Peter Vandermeer, and Tomas Divisek are gone. Following last night's loss, Phantoms' Head Coach John Stevens was asked for his thoughts on the how the personnel changes would impact the team as they prepare for the playoffs. It's always a concern; you want your group to get to know each other...we've had a lot of change and injury throughout the year and we always felt like our chemistry could improve. The people we have in here are good people and the excitement in practice since they've all got here is great said Stevens.

Photos by Pedro Cancel

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