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Phantoms Fall 5-4 In Overtime To Maple Leafs
Philadelphia's Eight-game Home Unbeaten Streak Halted

Friday, December 14, 2001

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

The Philadelphia Phantoms rallied from two goals down to force overtime, but saw their eight-game home unbeaten streak come to an end as Paul Healey's second goal of the night was the difference in a 5-4 victory for the St. John's Maple Leafs tonight at the First Union Spectrum.

Philadelphia fell behind 4-2 during an action-packed second period before forcing the extra session with goals by Mike Watt and Pavel Brendl. In overtime, Healey accepted a pass from Alan Rourke at the 1:08 mark and slapped a shot past Phantoms netminder Maxime Ouellet for the win.

The Phantoms suffered just their second setback in the last 16 games and lost at home for the first time since Oct. 26 vs. Quebec. Philadelphia has a tie and overtime loss against the Leafs this season, with two more meetings scheduled for March 8 & 9 in St. John's.

Ouellet finished with 22 saves as Philadelphia established a season high for combined goals in a game. St. John's goaltender Mike Minard recorded 27 saves.

Healey kicked off the scoring 6:08 into the opening period when he took a pass from Jeff Farkas and headed down the far side. With Phantoms defenseman Joe DiPenta right on the play, Healey managed to curve in front of the net and deposit it past Ouellet for his 10th goal of the season.

The second period featured a total of six goals, including three during a 49-second span early on. Kirby Law began the frenzy with a strange goal, his eighth, from Francis Lessard and Tomas Divisek at the 1:21 mark. Law unleashed a slapshot on the play that deflected high in the air before landing behind Minard and trickling into the net.

The Maple Leafs re-took the lead 28 seconds later as D.J. Smith's wrister from 15 feet out got past Ouellet. Don MacLean and Nathan Dempsey assisted on Smith's fourth goal of the season. But Divisek responded at the 2:10 mark by following in Watt's shot to notch his fourth of the year and make it 2-2.

A five-minute high-stickling penalty on Phantoms captain Mark Greig at the 4:07 mark led to a pair of power-play tallies for St. John's. The Maple Leafs moved ahead 3-2 with 12:20 remaining when Ouellet lost his stick after a collision inside the crease. Bob Wren took a feed from Marty Wilford and was able to slip a wrist shot in for his ninth of the season.

Forty-seven seconds later, Rourke found himself in front of the Phantoms net and sent it out wide to MacLean, who easily notched his ninth goal by firing it past Ouellet. Things calmed down for several minutes until Watt cut the St. John's lead in half with his second of the season. Vaclav Pletka and Mark Freer assisted on the power-play goal.

Brendl recorded the only goal of the third period to even the score at 4-4. In a four-on-four situation, John Slaney made a nice effort to keep the puck in the Maple Leafs zone and tap it to Brendl on the side.

"We are certainly happy. We were down two goals and kept battling back," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "(Greig's penalty) was obviously a turning point. I thought we were coming on strong when we tied the game up. Then they got two goals. We could have quit, but we came back."

The Phantoms are in the middle of a four-game in five-day stretch. They are back in action on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Hershey to take on the Bears before returning to the First Union Spectrum on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. to host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Phantoms Notes: Prior to the game, Ouellet received a trophy for being named the AHL's Rookie of the Month for November. He was 4-0-4 during the Phantoms home unbeaten streak. Slaney was also presented with a jersey for being named captain of the AHL Canadian All-Star Team. League President & CEO Dave Andrews presented both Philadelphia Phantoms with their honors. The Phantoms are 0-3-2-1 when allowing four or more goals. Meaghan Williams and friend celebrated her 10th birthday at the game. Plex came and paid them a visit as Santa Flex. Happy Holidays everybody.

Photos by Boog Williams

©2001 South Jersey Sports Online Inc.