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Phantoms Come Up Short in Securing Final Playoff Spot

Sunday, April 6, 2003

By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer

What a difference a day makes. Coming into the weekend, Philadelphia needed to capture all six points to secure the Western Conference’s final playoff birth. An inspirational 2-1 overtime win Friday night was tarnished with last night’s 4-2 loss to the Hershey Bears. Yet the hockey gods appeared to be looking down on the Phantoms; Rochester’s 2-1 loss to Syracuse, gave the Phantoms one more opportunity to determine their playoff fate.

The Phantoms knew this game would be hard fought; unlike the Rochester-Hamilton contest, both teams needed the win. For Philadelphia, it was a playoff birth and for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, it was home ice advantage.

Two second period goals by John Slaney and Kirby Law paced the Phantoms through the first thirty minutes of the game as Philadelphia seemed poised to grab the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had different thoughts as they rattled off three straight goals in regulation before netting the game-winner just fifty-six seconds in overtime as the Penguins kept the Phantoms out of post-season play for the first time in the team’s history with a 4-3 win.

Discouraged, frustrated, disappointed; that is how Phantoms’ captain Mark Greig assessed the team’s 33-33-6-8 season. It’s been an up and down year, much like this game was.

Playing with six skaters, the Phantoms rallied to tie the score with 31.3 seconds in regulation on Dennis Seidenberg’s fifth goal of the season. In the midst of a scramble in front of the Penguins net, Seidenberg somehow managed to get the puck past Penguins goalie Sebastian Caron, breathing new life into the Penguins.

The Phantoms threatened during the overtime session on shots by Greig, Andre Savage, and Slaney but Caron came up big and the Penguins came back on a two-on-one with Seidenberg as the lone Philadelphia defender.

Rob Scuderi’s feed to Toby Petersen caught Phantoms goalie Neil Little out of position and the Phantoms post-season hopes came to a thundering halt.

If we didn’t score in the first 3 ½ minutes (of overtime), we were going to pull our goaltender and try and create a power play situation to get into the playoffs, said Phantoms Head Coach, John Stevens.

Following a scoreless first period in which Philadelphia threw twelve shots on Caron, the Phantoms jumped to a quick 2-0 lead.

John Slaney took the feed from Andre Savage from the along the far boards to take the 1-0 lead. Coming into the game, the Phantoms had a 28-9-1-4 record when scoring the first goal and the fans sensed good things to come.

No one could have imagined what would come next.

Patrick Sharp got control of the puck of the face-off and fired a shot from the top of the circle. Kirby Law grabbed the rebound, beating Caron to the glove side for his 22nd goal of the season.

The Penguins got on the board on a bizarre goal by Brooks Orpik. Kris Beech took the faceoff back to Orpik whose shot ricocheted off of Seidenberg and into the Phantoms net

Still there was reason for optimism; the Phantoms held a 26-2-1-3 record when leading after two periods of play.

With the Phantoms Brad Tiley in the penalty box, Petersen scored his 30th goal of the season and Philadelphia’s playoff dreams seemed punctured.

Adding extra salt in the wound, former Phantom and Flyer Guillaume Lefebvre netted the go-ahead goal with 4:09 to go in regulation on a shot from the near side boards.

Forced to play desperate hockey, the Phantoms continued to put pressure on Caron until he finally caved with Seidenberg’s goal.

That’s the way hockey works; if you don’t score at one end the other team usually comes back and scores at the other, added Stevens.

Fans can visit the Phantoms web site at:

1st Period: No scoring.

2nd Period: PHL Slaney 9 (Savage, Greig) 7:33; PHL Law 22 (Sharp, Slaney) 7:44; WBS Orpik 4 (Beech) 14:11.

3rd Period: WBS Petersen 30 (Kraft, Kostopoulos) 4:19 (pp); WBS Lefebvre 8 (Orpik) 15:51; PHL Seidenberg 5 (Slaney, Law) 19:28.

Overtime: WBS Petersen 31 (Scuderi) 0:56.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 0-1-1-1
Philadelphia: 0-2-1-0

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 7-8-12-1
Philadelphia: 12-11-9-1


Caron (WBS)
Little (PHL)


1st Period: PHL Kohn (slashing) 0:35; WBS Robinson (holding) 3:00; WBS Buckley (slashing) 12:18; WBS Surovy (elbowing) 17:59.

2nd Period: WBS Kraft (delay of game) 1:01; PHL Stafford (roughing double-minor) 4:04; WBS Kraft (roughing double-minor) 4:04; PHL Vandermeer (tripping) 9:09; WBS Beech (holding) 11:42; PHL Stafford (roughing) 14:52; WBS Meloche (roughing) 14:52.

3rd Period: PHL Tiley (obstruction hooking) 3:06.

Overtime: None.

Officials: Referee Dave Hansen; Linesmen: Jim Doyle and Paul Nicholls



  1. Dennis Seidenberg (PHL)
  2. Guillaume Lefebvre (WBS)
  3. Toby Petersen (WBS)

Selected by: Laura Borden (Delaware County Times)


  1. The Phantoms hold a 6-4 season-series lead and are 26-13-3 all-time versus Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Phantoms record at home against the Penguins is 15-5-1.
  2. Philadelphia is 7-4-1-2 over the last 14 games while the Penguins are 4-0-2-0 in their last six games (4-1-1-0 in their last five road games).
  3. The Phantoms Ian MacNeil notched his 100th AHL point last night against Hershey; Neil Little surpassed 20,000 minutes played in the AHL in the same game.
  4. Who’s Hot: PHL Mark Greig has 16 points (4G, 12A) in his last thirteen games; Patrick Sharp has 14 points (3G, 11A) in his last fifteen games. Defenseman Brad Tiley has seven points (2G, 5A) in his last nine games. Neil Little is 7-2-1-2 in his last twelve starts. WBS Milan Kraft has ten points (3G, 7A) in his last ten games. Toby Petersen has fourteen points (7G, 7A) in his last thirteen games.
  5. The Phantoms announced the winners of their annual team awards prior to the game. Mike Lephart won the Community Service Award; Ben Stafford won the American Specialty/HG Insurance/AHL Man of the Year Award, Unsung Hero Award, and the Most Consistent Player Award, Jim Vandermeer won the Most Coachable Player Award; Rookie of the Year went to Patrick Sharp, Brad Tiley won the Barry Ashbee Award for the team’s best defenseman, Mark Greig won the Leading Scorer Award, and Neil Little won the Fan’s Choice Award.
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