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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Lose 5-1 To Binghamton In Brawl-Filled Game
Teams Combine For 379 Penalty Minutes

Sunday, December 28, 2003

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

In a game that featured a combined 379 penalty minutes - including 11 fights and 16 game misconducts - the Binghamton Senators posted a 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms tonight at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Binghamton was leading 4-1 when the first of four major brawls broke out with 3:50 remaining in the game. Senators goaltender Ray Emery and Phantoms right wing Mike Peluso were the main combatants initially until everyone else on the ice joined in, including Philadelphia goalie Neil Little, who skated the length of the ice and literally jumped onto the pile of fighters.

"I saw Pistol (Peter Vandermeer) going at it and I got speared in the head (by Emery)," said Peluso about the first brawl. "The guys were mad he got a cheap shot in. Everybody on the team stuck up for each other. A team that sticks together - whether scoring, fighting or winning - is going to be a hard team to play. The next time they come in here, it's going to be a different story."

After order was restored, both goaltenders were replaced and play resumed, the next melee erupted seven seconds later. Binghamton backup goalie Billy Thompson was involved and received a game misconduct, forcing Emery back on the ice despite earlier being assessed 17 minutes worth of penalties.

The teams waited a whole 37 seconds of play until the third brawl occurred at the 16:54 mark, as Phantoms left wing Craig Berube wound up receiving three game misconducts in the fracas. When play resumed again, Philadelphia was left with one player on the bench and Binghamton two.

The final brawl began with eight seconds to play and forced the referees to end the game at that point due to a lack of players.

When all was said and done, Philadelphia established franchise records for most penalty minutes in a game (210) and most combined penalty minutes (379). Peter Vandermeer, already the league leader in PIM, also set an individual Phantoms record with 44 PIM.

"The first two periods, we played like a team in a holiday funk," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "In the third, we showed we were mad and wanted to play harder. Things got heated and we stuck up for each other. It's a division rivalry and we're trying to gain points on each other. The rivalry is certainly on."

Philadelphia and Binghamton are scheduled to play four more times this season, with the next match-up set for Jan. 10 in Binghamton. The Senators do not return to the Spectrum until Feb. 7.

Josh Langfeld recorded a goal and two assists for Binghamton, which had won 4-2 in the first-ever meeting between the teams back on Oct. 10. Emery stopped 21-of-22 shots.

Mike Siklenka scored the lone goal and Little made 20 saves before getting ejected for Philadelphia, which has lost consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 9 & 12.

Binghamton opened the scoring just 2:08 into the game on Denis Hamel's 12th goal of the year. Langfeld began the sequence with a cross-ice pass into the Phantoms zone to Chris Kelly, who quickly moved it forward to Hamel. The right wing then beat Little to the far post from the near edge of the circle.

Brian McGrattan widened the gap to 2-0 at 15:30 of the first period - 10 seconds after serving a cross-checking minor. McGrattan received the puck from David Hymovitz as he exited the penalty box, skated down the far side on a breakaway and put a move on Little to net his seventh of the season.

The Senators made it 3-0 during a 5-on-3 power play at the 15:14 mark of the second period. With John Slaney serving a high-sticking major and Nick Deschenes in the box due to a bench minor for too many men on the ice, Hamel found Langfeld alone in front of the crease for an easy put-in. Andy Hedlund also set up Langfeld's 12th of the year.

Philadelphia missed on two breakaways during the second period. At the 2:47 mark, Boyd Kane had a shorthanded opportunity but his backhander sailed over the crossbar. Then with under three minutes remaining, Slaney got stuffed by Emery just after his high-sticking major had ended.

The Phantoms finally got on the board 9:04 into the third on Siklenka's first goal since March 29 of last season. Kane and P.J. Stock controlled the puck behind the Binghamton net before finding Siklenka in the slot for a one-timer past Emery.

But just 50 seconds later, Langfeld assisted on Alexandre Giroux's sixth goal during a 2-on-1 rush to make it 4-1. Serge Payer capped the scoring with 2:24 to play.

The Phantoms continue their four-game homestand next weekend with games vs. the Worcester IceCats on Friday at 7:05 p.m. and vs. the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Sunday at 5:05 p.m.

Phantoms Notes: Joey Hope and James Laux were injured scratches, while Ian MacNeil and Wade Skolney were healthy scratches ... Slaney returned after missing 17 games due to a broken ankle ... The AHL record for most penalty minutes by one team is 264. The record for most combined PIM in a game is 520.

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