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Phantoms Edge Hersey 3-2
Philadelphia Improves To 5-0 Versus Bears This Season

Sunday, December 14, 2003

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Antero Niittymaki made 33 saves as the Philadelphia Phantoms remained perfect against the rival Hershey Bears with a 3-2 victory tonight at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Boyd Kane, Mike Peluso and Patrick Sharp each scored, while Peter White and Dennis Seidenberg contributed two assists apiece for Philadelphia, which has won 10 of its last 13 games.

The Phantoms improved to 5-0 against Hershey this season, outscoring their instate rival by a combined score of 21-8 in the process. Philadelphia has won five in a row over the Bears for the first time in franchise history and holds a 42-32-8-5 lead in the all-time series.

Niittymaki, who was reassigned from the Flyers this morning, has just one loss in his last 10 appearances (5-1-2, two no-decisions) with the Phantoms. The 23-year-old had been serving as Jeff Hackett's back-up for the last week during his first career NHL stint.

"We played extremely well on the power play," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "We played a great two periods and held on in the third. We did the little things well tonight and put pressure on them and finished our checks. It was nice for him (Niittymaki) to get in the net after a week off. He's a good kid and helped us in the third. It was a nice solid effort to get us two points."

Peter Budaj stopped 25-of-28 shots for Hershey, which has won just one of its last eight games (1-4-3) overall and is 0-4-1 in its last five road games.

Kane tallied the lone goal of the first period during a Hershey power play. After Budaj barely beat him to a loose puck, the Phantoms maintained possession and Kane was able to deflect a Seidenberg shot into the net with 1:19 to go for his fifth of the year. White also assisted on Philadelphia's third shorthanded goal of the year.

Bruce Richardson evened the score at 1-1 at 4:37 of the second period during a scramble by the Phantoms net. Mark Jerant and Ryan Craig helped set up Richardson's second goal of the season.

But the Phantoms answered 61 seconds later with Peluso's 10th goal. White fed rookie Freddy Meyer for the initial shot and Peluso was there to knock in the rebound at the 5:38 mark.

Philadelphia widened the gap to 3-1 with 5:24 left in the middle period on Sharp's 10th of the year. On the power play, Kirby Law and Seidenberg worked the puck to Sharp for a one-timer that sailed past Budaj's shoulder.

"We played with a lot of intensity and just wanted the goals," said Seidenberg. "On the rush, we always went to the net and capitalized on the rebounds."

Hershey narrowed the deficit to 3-2 at 7:38 of the third when Evgeni Artukhin converted a breakaway. Marc Busenburg received an assist on Artukhin's second goal of the year.

The Phantoms are back in action on Thursday, when they begin a three-game road trip on in Toronto. The trip also includes stops in Syracuse and Hamilton before Philadelphia's next home game on Friday, Dec. 26 vs. Hershey.

Phantoms Notes: Earlier in the day, Jim Vandermeer and Niittymaki were reassigned from the Flyers and Nick Deschenes was recalled from Trenton ... Prior to the game, the Flyers Alumni Team played a charity game for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation ... John Slaney and Joey Hope were injured scratches, while Deschenes, James Laux, Wade Skolney and Craig Berube were healthy scratches ... Ian MacNeil played in his 100th game as a Phantom ... Five of Hershey's 11 losses this year have come vs. Philadelphia ... The Phantoms' two shots in the third period were a season low.

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