Phantoms See Playoff Hopes Dwindle in Overtime Loss to IceCats
Friday, March 7, 2003
By David W. Unkle
The Phantoms continue their late season skid giving up the tying goal in the third period and surrendering a power play goal in overtime as the visiting Worcester IceCats stole the game in front of 6,088 fans at the First Union Spectrum.
The Phantoms are five points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and the prospect of missing the playoffs for the first time in their history seems like a distinct possibility.
But it didn’t start out that way.
Philadelphia pressured the points in the first period, giving up just three shots on goal. Two of those three shots were partial breakaways and the IceCats seemed willing to let Philadelphia get the scoring opportunities. Neither team seemed willing to want to take the lead.
The Phantoms took advantage of crisp passing by the line of Patrick Sharp-Kirby Law-Ben Stafford to grab the 1-0 lead early in the second period.
Stafford started the play from behind the Phantoms net using the give and go with Sharp to get out of their defensive zone. As play moved into the offensive zone, another give and go, only this time with Sharp and Law found Law at the side of the IceCats net. Law threaded a pass to Sharp who one-timed it past Worcester goalie Reinhard Divis.
It was a nice play said Sharp, on his eleventh goal of the season. We got all three guys involved on a nice play and (the puck) was lucky to go in.
The Phantoms started counting their two points and position in the Conference standings following the end of the second period.
Philadelphia has a 20-0-1-1 record when leading after the second period while the IceCats were winless in 24 games (0-19-4-1).
The IceCats evened the score midway through the final period when Justin Papineau’s shot beat goalie Neil Little who was entertaining traffic in the crease.
Papineau, re-assigned to the IceCats earlier in the day by the St. Louis Blues, scored his 21st goal on the season, giving life to the IceCats.
The Phantoms put pressure on Divis in the final minutes of the game but couldn’t convert a number of opportunities.
The Phantoms penalty-killing unit, successful in 32 of 34 chances, surrendered the game-winning goal following a Brad Tiley hooking call at 2:06.
Screened in part by defenseman Jim Vandermeer, Christian Backman’s shot from the right circle, beat Little as the Phantoms squandered an opportunity to get two critical points.
It’s good to get the point but you can’t help but feel that we gave up two very avoidable goals said Sharp. Tonight would have been a big win for us and unfortunately we didn’t pull it off…we have to come ready to play every night.
Added Phantoms coach, John Stevens, good teams find a way to win and we didn’t (tonight).
After 64 games when your team is in the playoff hunt, that’s not encouraging news.
Fans can visit the Phantoms web site for schedule and ticket information at: www.phantomshockey.com.
SCORE BY PERIOD:
SHOTS ON GOAL:
Officials: Referee Dean Morton; Linesmen: David Brisebois and Aaron Lundbohm
STARS OF THE GAME:
Chosen By: Vince Di Gregorio of the Associated Press
Photos provided by Pedro Cancel Jr.
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