By Patrick Williams
SJSports Special Correspondent
Kirby Law earns his hat tricks.
Law's third goal of the game with 33.1 seconds to go sealed a 5-3 victory over the Syracuse Crunch at the First Union Spectrum before 10,043. That third goal was all work from Law. With Syracuse goaltender Goehring off for a sixth attacker, Law fended off two Crunch defenders in pursuit of a loose puck before shoveling the puck into the vacant net.
It was that kind of effort that could be found from start to finish for the Phantoms, who used the line of Law, Patrick Sharp and Guillaume Lefebvre to beat the Crunch and keep pace in the tight Western Conference. Sharp added a goal and two assists.
Jamie Wright had the Phantoms’ other goal, while Neil Little made 32 stops in the Philadelphia net.
Head coach John Stevens called the win a “total team effort.”
The Phantoms (22-23-3-3, now have 50 points, good for 11th place in the conference, one point behind Rochester. The Phantoms have three games on hand on the Amerks.
With 29 games left this season, points are increasingly crucial for the Phantoms.
We have to play with urgency,” said Stevens.
His players agreed.
We have to play with desparation,” Wright said, “but it has to be smart desparation.”
Syracuse received offensive output from Mathieu Darche, Jeremy Reich and Paul Manning. Syracuse goaltender Karl Goehring survived a rocky start in a 35-save night.
Law’s hat trick was his second of the season, his first coming in a 4-1 win at Bridgeport on Dec. 7. The veteran prospered against this season, with five of his 14 goals this season coming against Syracuse goaltenders.
A pair of newcomers to the Philadelphia lineup combined to give the Phantoms an early 1-0 lead. Sharp took a feed from Ryan Bast and put it behind Goehring at 3:27. Sharp’s tally, his fifth of the season, was his first since November 6th
Two minutes and eighteen seconds later, Law made it a 2-0 game. Sharp delivered a pass to Law, positioned at the top of the left circle. From there, Law smoked a shot over Goehring’s shoulder.
Syracuse head coach Gary Agnew had a quick hook. Goehring was yanked after facing just three shots for top prospect Pascale Leclaire. But Goehrig returned after a 58-second absence.
Philadelphia continued to throw rubber at Goehring. Jamie Wright’s snap shot in close was kicked aside. Then, with a five-on-three power play with which to work, Brad Tiley’s slap shot hit Goehring square in the chest.
Having killed off one of the minors on the Phantoms’ two-man advantage, Syracuse jumped back into the game, courtesy of Reich’s shorthanded goal.
Syracuse tied the score at two a little over seven minutes into the middle frame. Darche tipped Derrick Walser’s blast from the right point behind Little.
Law gave the Phantoms the lead at 11:27 on the power play. This time, Law marched into the slot and banked a shot off the right post and in. Law’s second tally of the game came after Guillaume Lefebvre outmuscled Syracuse defenseman Paul Manning in the crease, freeing up room for Law.
Wright’s 100th career pro goal wrapped up the victory with 7:36 to play. Shorthanded, Brad Tiley worked a pass up to Wright along the right board. Wright stepped into the shot and blew a shot stickside by Goehring.
A goal from Manning with about five minutes to play made things dicey for the Phantoms late. Manning picked up the puck at the top of the circles and directed a screen shot by Little.
***SOUTH JERSEY SPORTS INSIDE THE GAME***
The Phantoms were well-represented in the press box last night. Sitting out were Dan Peters (undisclosed), John Slaney (groin), Wade Skolney (shoulder), David Harlock (broken jaw) and Mike Siklenka (eye). Jeff Smith was an additional scratch.
Skolney is expected to miss two weeks. After the game, the coaching staff was debating whether Slaney would make the upcoming road trip with the team. Harlock’s return date is unknown for the time-being.
HARROLD JOINS PHANTOMS
The team’s depleted blue line received another East Coast Hockey League reinforcement before the game. Harrold, 26, went 8-18-26 over 46 games with Pensacola and Richmond.
Along with Harrold, the Phantoms had four other relative newcomers who have spent significant time in the ECHL on the blue line: Kirk Furey, Chris Bogas and Ian Forbes. Ryan Bast, acquired on Friday from the Carolina organization, also dressed. Tiley was the lone holdover.
Tiley shrugged off the heavy amount of ice time that he logged in four games over five nights.
It’s something you have to do,” Tiley said.
The Phantoms head out of town on a five-game trip that takes them to Cleveland on Tuesday, Grand Rapids on Wednesday, Rochester on Friday, Cincinnati on Saturday and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Monday, Feb. 17.