Phantoms Remain in Playoff Hunt with 2-1 Overtime Win over Bears
Friday, April 4, 2003
By David W. Unkle
Discipline. Focus. Commitment. Playoff bound teams demonstrate these attributes throughout the season; teams that don’t, pull out the stockpile of sports clichés and talk about a better next season. For the Philadelphia Phantoms, next season is this season. And they have two games left to prove that the first eighty wasn’t for naught.
Philadelphia (33-32-6-7) came into tonight’s game against the Hershey Bears (34-27-14-3) barely grasping the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. Playing with the prospect of missing the playoffs for the first time in the team’s history, the Philadelphia played with the emotion that was lacking in Wednesday night’s game against Syracuse.
In what was considered the team’s worst loss in almost a month, the 4-3 overtime loss to the Crunch (who own the league’s third worst record) led Phantoms Head Coach John Stevens describe his team’s performance as “pathetic”, hoping that his players would be able to look at themselves in the mirror if that was the best they could muster with everything on the line.
John Slaney’s goal with 1:17 left in overtime gave Philadelphia the 2-1 win. Dennis (Seidenberg) had a shot off of the faceoff and once you get the pressure, you have to keep it going, said Slaney. I think they were just sitting back and waiting for everything to happen. (Mark) Greig made a great pass and I just put it over the goalie’s shoulder.
For the Phantoms, their 4th win of the season when trailing after two periods couldn’t have come at a better time.
While Stevens had to be happy with two points tonight, he certainly wasn’t pleased with the lack of discipline evident throughout the game.
I thought we had a decent start…the guys showed a lot of character against a good hockey team, said Phantoms Head Coach, John Stevens. To take matters into our own hands like we did…those are penalties that we can do without. We can’t stop shooting ourselves in the foot.
Just twenty-four seconds into the game, Philadelphia’s Jamie Wright was whistled for interference, putting the Phantoms at the early disadvantage and Dan Peters had an instigation penalty midway through the second period but it was an early breakdown on the power play that set the stage for evening.
Hershey’s Brett Clark jumped on the puck in his own end while the Phantoms were playing with the man advantage. Leading the two-on-none short-handed breakaway, Clark skated in alone on Phantoms goalie Neil Little but his shot found nothing but pad and the game remained scoreless.
Both teams stepped up the physical game leading to a melee with 90 seconds to go in the first.
Jeff Paul pitch-forked the Phantoms Mike Siklenka near the top of the face-off circle, leading to both players landing unobstructed punches, one of which fractured Paul’s orbital bone.
Paul received a double-minor for spearing while Siklenka received a match penalty.
The Bears struck first blood at the beginning of the second period. While on the power play, Hershey’s Charlie Stephens gained control of the puck to the side of the Philadelphia net and slid it to John-Michael Liles in the high slot. Liles found Travis Brigley along the right wing boards and his one-timer beat Phantoms goalie Neil Little for the 1-0 lead.
The Phantoms knotted the game at 1-1 on Kirby Law’s goal in the opening minute of the third period. It was a broken play at the far side of the ice, said Law on the 100th goal of his AHL career. Dan Peters threw it up to Ladi (Ladislav Kohn) and he made a great play over to Patrick Sharp. We had a two-on-one at the top of the circle and he fed a great pass to me. I just waited for the goalie to go down and I went upstairs.
The Phantoms still hold final playoff spot but they are still not considered a lock to make the playoffs. Rochester defeated Syracuse to remain tied with the Phantoms with 79 points. Philadelphia holds the first tie-breaker but need to come out of this weekend with six points.
This weekend is all or nothing…it took 63 minutes to get two points, said Law. We can’t fool around tomorrow night.
SCORE BY PERIOD:
SHOTS ON GOAL:
1st Period: PHL Wright (interference) 0:24; HER Bench Minor (too many men on ice) 2:49: HER Paul (high-sticking) 6:11; PHL Savage (high-sticking) 11:32; PHL Sharp (cross-checking) 14:36; PHL Vandermeer (misconduct) 18:30; PHL Siklenka (match) 18:30; HER Muir (misconduct) 18:30; HER Paul (double minor, spearing) 18:30.
Officials: Referee Dave Hansen; Linesmen: Aaron Lundbohm and Paul Nicholls
STARS OF THE GAME:
Selected by: David W. Unkle (WNJC 1360-AM and Our Sports Central)
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