|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Win 4-1 At Hershey
Philadelphia Unbeaten Streak Now At Eight Games
Thursday, December 4, 2003
By Al Cohen
The Philadelphia Phantoms scored three times in the opening period tonight and cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Hershey Bears at the GIANT Center, extending their unbeaten streak to eight games.
Rookie Randy Jones recorded a goal and an assist, while fellow rookie Jeff Woywitka and captain Boyd Kane each added two assists for Philadelphia, which is 7-0-1 since its last loss on Nov. 15 at Bridgeport. It is the Phantoms' longest unbeaten streak since collecting four wins and four ties from Jan. 20-Feb. 6, 2002.
Antero Niittymaki stopped 31-of-32 shots as Philadelphia improved to 4-0 against Hershey this season, outscoring their instate rival, 18-6, in the process. The Phantoms have also won five of their last six road games.
Hershey's Peter Budaj made nine saves in the first period before being replaced by Tom Lawson, who turned aside 27-of-28 shots the rest of the way. The Bears, who entered the game with the most points in the AHL (31), have won just one of their last five games.
Philadelphia opened up strong with a trio of first-period goals. The first score by Mike Peluso came at the 5:50 mark after Peter White won a face-off in the Hershey zone. The puck came back to Jones, who uncorked a slap shot from the left point, and Peluso was there to knock in the rebound for his eighth of the year.
White's assist made him just the 20th player to record 700 points in the AHL.
Just under seven minutes later, Patrick Sharp netted his eighth goal to make it 2-0. On the play, Woywitka took a feed from Kane and found Sharp across the ice all alone in front of the net. The second-year center hesitated for a moment to get Budaj out of position before placing it top shelf.
Jones widened the margin to three with his first goal as a pro with 2:51 to go in the period. Kirby Law and Kane set up the long blast from between the circles.
For Law, the assist extended his current point streak to seven games (5G, 4A), which is a team season high.
Hershey scored the lone goal of the second period with just 50.8 seconds left. As Woywitka sat in the penalty box due to a high sticking minor, Steve Brule fired a slap shot from the near circle and Sheldon Keefe whacked away at the carom a couple of times to register his seventh goal of the season.
The goal snapped a scoreless streak of 111:02 for Niittymaki, who is now unbeaten in his last eight appearances (4-0-2 with two no-decisions).
Philadelphia extended the lead to 4-1 at 1:55 of the third period during a 2-on-1 rush. Woywitka began the sequence with a pass to Mark Murphy, who dashed down the far side with teammate Craig Berube filling the lane. Murphy faked a pass to Berube and a shot on goal before backhanding it past Lawson for his ninth of the year.
The Phantoms are back in action on Friday at 7:05 p.m. when they host the Norfolk Admirals at the Wachovia Spectrum. The teams then head to Virginia for a battle at the Norfolk Scope on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Phantoms Notes: Freddy Meyer, John Slaney, Mike Siklenka and Nick Deschenes were injured scratches ... Sharp has eight points (2G, 7A) in his last seven games ... Philadelphia's league-leading power play was 0-for-8 tonight ... Philadelphia is 41-32-8-5 all-time vs. Hershey.
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