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Phantoms Open Playoffs with 4-2 Win over Rochester

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer

The Phantoms played perhaps their best hockey in the last two months and their effort paid off as Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in their best of three series against the Rochester Americans at the First Union Spectrum. Mike Watt scored two goals coupled with strong goaltending from Neil Little paced the Phantoms to a 4-2 win. The win was even bigger for Philadelphia who struggled down the stretch, at one point going 4-15-2 in a span of 21 games. We were concerned late in the year obviously when we stumbled but we had a lot of new faces... the Norfolk game at home and even the Hershey game we lost we were happy with the outcome... it seems like we get better each step of the way said Phantoms' Head Coach John Stevens.

Philadelphia jumped out to a 1-0 lead, albeit short-lived, on Mike Watt's deflection of a Jim Vandermeer shot at 7:37. Just eighteen seconds later, Francois Methot's wrist shot beat Little high to the stick side and the score was tied 1-1. Rochester threatened to break the deadlock but Little shut the door on the Amerk's offense. With Rochester goalie Tom Askey out of position, Pavel Brendl's shot from the far side boards broke the deadlock at 15:50 of the opening period.

The Amerks knotted the score on Jeremy Adduono's stuff found all the room it needed beating Little to the glove side at 12:46 of the second period but that would be all the offense that Rochester would muster for the night. Watt's second of the night at 3:13 of the third was all that was needed. Mike Watt has played his best hockey of the season in the last 10 or so games, said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. He came off of a very serious injury at the beginning of the season, and to his credit, he has worked hard and gotten better and better as the season has gone along. He's been very good for us down the stretch. John Slaney's unassisted goal at 4:13 provided the insurance giving Philadelphia a much needed win along with a boost of confidence.

I had a tough regular season getting injured at the start and I'm trying to make up some lost time...we just played a really sound game tonight and everybody chipped the puck in. We played a simple game; we got good shots but we tried not to give them too much and it worked out tonight...we just have to come at them every night...anything can happen in the playoffs said Watt.

Photos by Pedro Cancel

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