|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Blank Bears 4-0
Friday, January 16, 2004
By Al Cohen
Antero Niittymaki stopped all 19 shots he faced as the Philadelphia Phantoms remained unbeaten against the Hershey Bears with a 4-0 victory tonight at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Kirby Law, Boyd Kane, Randy Jones and Peter White each scored for Philadelphia, which has won all seven meetings with Hershey this season. The Phantoms have outscored the Bears, 31-10, in the series with five match-ups remaining.
After facing zero shots during the second period, Niittymaki registered 13 saves in the third to complete his third shutout of the season. The 23-year-old native of Finland has just three losses in his last 18 appearances as a Phantom (9-3-3 with three no-decisions).
The Phantoms captured their fifth game in a row for their longest win streak since also winning five straight from Feb. 24-March 9, 2001.
Peter Budaj finished with 23 saves for Hershey, which had a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) come to an end.
Philadelphia barraged Budaj with 16 shots during the first period and jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Law opened the scoring 1:58 into the game when he executed a give-and-go with Ben Stafford. Law received the puck in the near circle and tallied his 17th goal into the top right corner of the net. Jim Vandermeer also assisted on the power-play goal.
Kane doubled the lead at the 6:33 mark during a Hershey power play. White outfought a Bears defenseman to a loose puck in the Hershey zone and centered a pass to Kane. The team captain turned and got off a shot that barely trickled over the goal line. The shorthanded goal was Kane's seventh of the year.
Jones widened the gap to 3-0 at 7:22 of the first stanza. On the play, Mark Murphy went on a 2-on-1 rush with Craig Berube and found Jones trailing the play. The rookie defenseman skated across the crease and backhanded a shot past Budaj. P.J. Stock also set up Jones' third of the year.
"Tonight we came out and went after them," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "We had a great start and work ethic throughout the game. This was a big game for us in our division. This is a big weekend for us and we certainly wanted to get the right start to it."
The Phantoms tallied the lone goal of the second period while establishing a franchise record with zero shots allowed.
White netted his ninth goal with 1:11 left in the second to make it 4-0 when he followed in a missed shot by Wade Skolney. It was Philadelphia's second power-play goal of the night.
The Bears held a 13-2 lead in shots and had both power plays during the third period, but came up empty.
The Phantoms play at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday night before returning home to take on the Norfolk Admirals on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
Phantoms Notes: The Phantoms debuted their purple third jerseys tonight ... Joey Hope and James Laux were injured scratches, while Ian MacNeil was a healthy scratch ... Mike Siklenka concluded his six-game league suspension ... Stock played in his 200th AHL game ... Law extended his point streak to six games (4G, 6A) ... The Phantoms are 11-2-1 when Law scores ... Philadelphia tied a club record with its fifth shutout of the season. The team also blanked five opponents in 2000-01.
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