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Event Spotlight:
Phantoms Fall 2-1 in Overtime

Thursday, January 9, 2003

By Patrick Williams
SJSports Special Correspondent

PHILADELPHIA - Sometimes you do get something for nothing. Last night at the First Union Spectrum, the Phantoms picked up a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The point was handed to the Phantoms, who managed to take the game into overtime despite being outplayed in every facet of the game against a Bridgeport team with only 15 skaters.

Daniel Tkaczuk blistered a shot from the top right circle past Phantoms goaltender Antero Niittymaki with 12.1 seconds to play in overtime. Bridgeport's much-heralded goaltender, Rick DiPietro, posted 28 saves. Niittymaki countered with 33 saves in the loss.

"We were lucky to get a point," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "We were outplayed and outworked. Give Niittymaki credit for the point. We're not going to get better as a team until we win games like this, and climb up the standings. We got what we deserved tonight."

Mike Lephart had the lone Phantoms goal, while the Sound Tigers' Eric Manlow scored for the visitors.

Bridgeport threatened 10 minutes into the contest. Jeremy Adduono broke through the right circle and attempted to stuff the puck past Niittymaki. The 22-year-old goaltender held the left post, however, and stopped Adduono.

The Sound Tigers controlled the tempo through the first 30 minutes of play, holding a 20-8 shots advantage.

Peter Vandermeer drew a double-minor at the 16-minute mark of the middle period, sending the American Hockey League's 22nd-ranked power play to work.

On the Sound Tigers' first half of the power play, Manlow picked off a Phantoms clearing attempt in the Philadelphia zone. Manlow made his way to the left circle and put a shot high past Niittymaki's glove 51 seconds into man-advantage. The marker was Manlow's 11th of the season. Replays, however, indicated that Manlow's shot nicked the far post and did not enter the net.

The Phantoms managed to fend off the visitors during the final two minutes of the Vandermeer penalty.

Philadelphia used a 17-5 advantage in shots during the third to tie the game.

The Bridgeport lead disappeared at 10:04 of the third. Lephart recorded his third goal of the season when he scooped a rebound in front and ripped it past DiPietro to even the score at one.

Philadelphia went on a five-on-three advantage for 52 seconds late in the third following calls against Bridgeport's Daniel Tkaczuk and Blaine Down. The Phantoms struggled to move the puck from the points to forwards down low. Mark Greig's blast from the left circle was the Phantoms' only legitimate scoring opportunity.

"We weren't ready to play from the start," Greig said. "We weren't involved for 40 minutes, and salvaged a point in the last 20. We were a little sloppy tonight. We didn't win the loose pucks along the boards."

Niittymaki anchored the Phantoms in the final minute of regulation time with Kirby Law off for hooking. Konstantin Kalmikov and Mike Souza had shots from in close but were stopped. Souza's shot came from the bottom right circle, with Niittymaki managing to snag it.

Niittymaki continued his work during the overtime session. Niittymaki gloved Sven Butenschon's right-circle rocket with just over three minutes left. He followed up that effort with a stop on Tomi Pettinen.

Photos by Pedro Cancel

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