By Patrick Williams
SJSports Special Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA The season one quarter through, the Phantoms are shaping up as a team that will need to battle for every point.
Last night they did just that, surviving a shaky second period en route to a 4-2 win over Rochester before 5,315 at the First Union Spectrum.
The Phantoms (8-9-1-2, 19 points) rebounded from a 2-1 loss last Saturday in Bridgeport.
Jack Baker and Peter Vandermeer both collected their first goals of the season in the win. Antero Niittymaki contributed 22 saves, as Neil Little remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Rochester (4-10-5-2, 15 points) sagged from the start, and the Phantoms jumped on the Amerks, outshooting the visitors, 15-5, by the 15-minute mark of the period.
Twice during a mid-period Rochester power play, the Phantoms failed to convert scoring chances. Mike Lephart and Ben Stafford broke in on Rochester goaltender Ryan Miller on a two-on-one, but Stafford’s one-timer caught Miller’s right pad. About a minute later, Kirby Law had the puck alone in front of the net but juggled the puck and was stopped.
Later in the period, Patrick Sharp and Law teamed up on a tic-tac-toe play deep in the Rochester zone, but Law’s shot found Miller.
The pressure eventually paid off for the Phantoms. Mark Greig whipped a shot from the top of the circles over Miller’s left shoulder, taking a feed from Andre Savage.
Greig’s 12 goals lead the club. His overtime goal on October 12 beat the Amerks, 1-0, in their first visit to Philadelphia this season.
Baker pounced on an Amerks giveaway in the Rochester zone. The first-year forward out of Boston University broke in on Miller and snapped a shot under the crossbar at 18:48 for a two-goal lead.
The lead jumped to 3-0 at the 5:14 mark of the second. Peter Vandermeer poked a rebound at the right post past Miller.
Niittymaki’s shutout lasted until the contest’s midpoint. Down a man, Jason Botterill converted Peter Ratchuk’s pass to make it a 3-1 game.
It became a one-goal game with 3:18 to play in the second, when Radoslav Hecl whistled a shot from the point through Niittymaki’s pads.
The clubs glided through the third period, going scoreless before Eric Betournay’s second goal of the season an empty-netter at 19:01 sealed the win.