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Event Spotlight:
Phantoms Cruise to 4-1 Victory

Friday, November 15, 2002

By Patrick Williams
SJSports Special Correspondent

PHILADELPHIA - The Phantoms made sure that Peter White's homecoming was a memorable one.

Philadelphia skated past the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last night, 4-1, at the First Union Spectrum

Antero Niittymaki made 17 saves in the win, while Ian MacNeil added a goal and an assist.

White had an assist in his first game with the Phantoms since March 5, 2000.

Last night’s game was the first sign that the Phantoms may be adjusting to the American Hockey League’s penalty crackdown, yielding just three power plays to the Sound Tigers.

The Phantoms’ power play, which had struggled for a good portion of the season, notched a goal against the AHL’s top-ranked penalty kill.

Niittymaki erased a Bridgeport scoring chance 10 minutes into the game. Bridgeport’s Mattias Weindahl scooped up a turnover at the Philadelphia blueline. Cruising in on a partial breakaway, the forward cut across the slot, but Niittymaki kept up with Weindahl and closed the pads.

“I’m feeling comfortable now,” Niittymaki said. The rookie netminder endured a rocky welcome to the AHL, but has settled down in recent weeks.

Two minutes after Niittymaki’s save, the Phantoms opened the night’s scoring. A bouncing puck to the right of Bridgeport netminder Steve Valiquette glanced off Guillaume Lefebvre and into the Sound Tigers’ net for the second-year winger’s third goal of the campaign.

Mike Lephart made his first marker of the year a pretty one 2:53 into the second. Patrick Sharp’s pass through the neutral zone found Lephart, who has struggled so far this season, The winger cut into the Bridgeport zone, broke in on Valiquette and beat the goaltender through the five-hole.

Bridgeport cut the Phantoms’ lead by one with 5:47 to play in the second. Matt Higgins sped down the right wing and placed a shot under the crossbar.

Philadelphia went right back to work. Twenty-nine seconds later, David Harlock put White’s rebound past Valiquette for a 3-1 Phantoms lead.

The lead bulged to 4-1 with Daniel Tkaczuk off for cross-checking. MacNeil tipped John’s Slaney’s point shot over Valiquette’s shoulder.

Slaney’s assist was his 300th professional assist.

The Phantoms hit the road for a game in Syracuse tonight and a pair in Utah on Monday and Wednesday. Milwaukee visits next Friday night at 7:05 p.m.

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