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Event Spotlight:
Phantoms and Connect to Create Love at First (Hockey) Fight

Friday, December 6, 2002

By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer

In a repeat of last April's successful Break the Ice promotion, the Philadelphia Phantoms and internet dating service joined forces again to unite singles in the Delaware Valley for a pre-game party and a hockey game between the Rochester Americans and the hometown Phantoms. Last April, over 200 singles turned out in search of that special someone with this years total approaching 250 for a Thanksgiving eve game.

The specially priced $18 tickets included free cheese steaks, hoagies, chips, and pretzels, a fully stocked cash bar and a lower level ticket to the game.

The Phantoms were perfect hosts that night as they defeated the Rochester Americans 4-2. Mark Greig, Jack Baker, and Peter Vandermeer gave Philadelphia a 3-0 lead.

A short-handed goal by Jason Botterill and a tally by Radoslav Hecl closed the score to 3-2 before Eric Betournay's empty-netter with under a minute to play made the score 4-2.

Antero Niittymaki made 22 saves on the night.

Gwen from the ABC television show, The Bachelor, dropped the opening puck. The 31-year old Philadelphia native was on-hand to participate in the festivities and took in the game.

I did speak with one couple in between periods of the game. Kevin Byrne of Boyertown, PA and Jen Walsh of West Chester, PA met at the pre-game party and seemed to be enjoying themselves throughout the game.

Not initially a member of, Byrne came to the event with his friend, George Sigley of Sassamansville, PA. After meeting Walsh, he may not become one either.

A big hockey fan, Walsh organizes a group of girls to go to hockey games all the time. It's a great way to meet people says Walsh as Byrne is smiling by her side.

Others such as South Jersey's Susan Vona not only got to see her first Phantoms game but also netted a date for Thanksgiving.

Everyone seemed to have fun either making new friends and enjoying the game and for some maybe meeting their perfect match.

Photos by Pedro Cancel

©2002 South Jersey Sports Online Inc.