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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Post 2-1 Win In Binghamton

Saturday, January 10, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

In the highly anticipated rematch between Philadelphia and the Binghamton Senators, Neil Little made 26 saves tonight to lead the Phantoms to a 2-1 victory at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.

The last time the Phantoms and Senators met on Dec. 28, the teams combined for 373 penalty minutes, 11 fights and 15 game misconducts in a 5-1 Binghamton win. Three Philadelphia players received suspensions from that game, including Little.

After serving his two-game suspension and backing up Antero Niittymaki the last two games, Little returned to the ice tonight and only allowed a power-play goal by Chris Kelly in the second period. The 32-year-old stopped all 13 shots he faced in the third to win for the ninth time in his last 11 decisions.

Nick Deschenes and Ian MacNeil each scored for Philadelphia, which won its fourth in a row overall and improved to 9-1-1 in its last 11 road games. The Phantoms were making their first-ever visit to Binghamton and are 1-2 vs. the Senators this season.

Ray Emery turned aside 28 shots for the Senators, who ended their five-game homestand at 2-3. Binghamton will host the Phantoms twice more this year before visiting the Wachovia Spectrum for the final time on April 4.

As expected, the game started off physical, as Jim Vandermeer and Binghamton's Mike Brown dropped the gloves just 47 seconds into the first period. Peter Vandermeer, who on Friday completed a four-game suspension from the last Binghamton game, and Brian McGrattan also fought early in the opening period.

The teams settled down for the final 10 minutes of the period and Philadelphia assumed a 1-0 lead with 70 seconds left. Just 12 seconds after serving a cross-checking minor, Deschenes tallied his fourth goal during a scramble outside the Senators crease. John Slaney and Kirby Law received assists on the play.

Binghamton evened the score on the power play 6:31 into the second period. Kelly took a feed from Julien Vauclair and blasted a low line drive from the point that made its way through traffic past Little.

Kelly's ninth goal of the year was the first power-play goal allowed by Philadelphia on the road since Dec. 3, when Hershey's Sheldon Keefe accomplished the feat. The Phantoms had killed 34 straight penalties away from the Spectrum until Kelly's equalizer.

But Philadelphia moved back ahead, 2-1, at the 11:26 mark on MacNeil's sixth of the season. MacNeil and Mark Murphy controlled the puck behind the Senators net on the play before MacNeil tried a wraparound. The center, who had been a healthy scratch the last five games, did not get much on the shot, but it managed to trickle over the goal line past a helpless Emery.

After outshooting Binghamton, 13-5, in the second period, Philadelphia got outshot, 13-6, during the final 20 minutes.

Their were no more fights after the first period and the teams finished with a combined 34 PIM.

The Phantoms return to action on Friday, Jan. 16 at 7:05 p.m., when they host the Hershey Bears at the Wachovia Spectrum. Philadelphia then plays at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton next Saturday and entertains the Norfolk Admirals on Sunday, Jan. 18.

Phantoms Notes: The scratches were James Laux, Joey Hope, P.J. Stock and Mathieu Brunelle ... Mike Siklenka served the fifth game of his six-game suspension ... Law extended his point streak to five games (3G, 6A) ... Philadelphia is 4-0 all-time on Jan. 10 ... The Phantoms matched their longest win streak of the year, originally set from Nov. 16-23 ... Philadelphia improved to 14-3-1 when leading after two periods.

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