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Phantoms Slip Again to Hershey

Sunday, February 23, 2003

By Patrick Williams
SJSports Special Correspondent

Falling behind again, the Phantoms stayed behind in Sunday night's 3-0 loss to the visiting Hershey Bears. The Phantoms are now winless in four and sit one point behind Milwaukee for the Western Conference's 10th and final playoff spot. Hershey goal-scorers were Steve Brule, Mark Freer and Jordan Krestanovich. Phil Sauve stopped all 33 Phantoms' shots.

Ryan Bast attempted outlet pass instead handed the puck over to Brule deep in the Phantoms' zone. Brule cruised in on net, drew Little down and tucked his ninth goal of the season under Little.

The Bears made it 2-0 shortly thereafter. Freer took a tic-tac-toe feed from Bertrand at the right of the crease and placed the puck just inside the left post behind Little.

"We came out flat," Phantoms head coach John Stevens said. "I'm not sure why, but I'm determined to find out why."

Stevens continued, "We're not getting consistent contributions. Neil Little should sue for non-support. We need everybody on board. We're not going to let these guys off the hook."

Six of Freer's 19 goals this season have come at the expense of Philadelphia, where he played from 2000-02.

The Bears continued to hold steady at 2-0 when the penalties to Brent Thompson and Alexander Ryazantsev early in the third sent the Phantoms onto a five-on-three power play.

Pitted against the league's third-best penalty kill, the Phantoms sputtering power play continued to do just that. Brad Tiley was repeatedly forced to force shots or dump passes off to forwards deep in the corner, as the Bears pressured the Philadelphia power play at will. Little, if any, traffic found its way into the slot in front of Sauve.

Krestanovich finished off the Phantoms with an empty-net goal from just inside the center ice line at 19:22.

"I'm not going to make excuses," Stevens added. "We're fully capable."


Phantoms D John Slaney left Saturday night's game in Hershey with a groin pull and is out indefinitely.

David Harlock, sidelined with a broken jaw, has not set a date for a return to the lineup.

Ian Forbes and Chris Bogas were the other Phantoms scratches.

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