|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Defense Powers Phantoms To 4-3 Overtime Win
Sunday, February 1, 2004
By David W. Unkle
John Slaney’s power play goal at 1:23 of overtime kept the Phantoms’ home unbeaten streak intact as Philadelphia downed the Milwaukee Admirals 4-3 in front of 15,603 at the Wachovia Center.
With less than 30 seconds left on the man advantage, Slaney’s one-timer beat Flaherty who could only watch as the Phantoms remained one point behind first place Bridgeport in the East.
Antero Niittymaki stopped 23 shots in earning his 14th victory of the season. Milwaukee’s Wade Flaherty stopped 22 of 26 shots in a losing effort.
The Phantoms started January with a 3-1 loss to the Worcester Ice Cats; aside from a 4-3 road loss the Phantoms have been next to perfect.
Playing with the lead or playing catch-up seems irrelevant; the team finds what it needs not to lose.
An eight-game home unbeaten streak on the heels of two months of consistent, sometimes spectacular hockey has the Phantoms near the top of the AHL for the first time in recent memory.
Confidence, attitude, determination; whatever it is, it’s working for the Phantoms.
A 3-1 third period deficit in last night’s game against Hartford, a team that hasn’t lost a game where they’ve lead going into the third period ended in a 3-3 tie.
“I don’t know it’s pretty unbelievable actually”, said Slaney, on the Phantoms’ streak.
Obviously pleased with his team’s record at this point in the season but not always happy with how they get there, Phantoms Head Coach John Stevens added “we’re not playing a solid sixty minutes of hockey…but we’re finding ways to win hockey games”.
Philadelphia did play solid hockey at the start of the game but then mental lapses resulted in the first Milwaukee goal.
With Philadelphia defenseman in tow, the Admirals’ Jay Henderson carried the puck deep into the Phantoms’ zone.
An innocent-appearing backhander along the ice found space between Niittymaki’s pads for the 1-0 lead at 13:38 of the first period.
Peter White scored his first goal in seven games to knot the score at 1-1 before former Phantoms’ defenseman Brad Tiley put the visitors back on top 2-1.
With Joey Hope in the box for hooking at 10:30, Libor Pikor grabbed control of the puck along the boards.
Libor slid the puck between two Phantoms defenders from the right circle and found Tiley skating across the crease who deflected the puck past Niittymaki.
It was Tiley’s seventh goal of the season in his first visit to Philadelphia. Tiley played three seasons for the Phantoms but was not re-signed following the 2002-03 season.
B.J. Abel scored with a little over two minutes to go in the second period to tie the game at two apiece.
With the puck lost in the Milwaukee crease, Abel poked the puck past Flaherty for his second goal of the season and his first since opening night.
Kirill Safronov gave the Admirals their third lead of the afternoon at 5:37 of the third period before the Milwaukee shot themselves in the foot.
Just six seconds after Greg Classen was called for cross-checking in front of the Milwaukee net, Kirk Furey’s blast from the right point beat Flaherty high.
With 7.3 seconds left in regulation, Admirals’ defenseman Greg Zanon was called for holding setting the stage for Slaney’s overtime winner.
“It was a roller coaster ride tonight where we got behind three times tonight but the guys found a way to get things done”, said Stevens.
Added Slaney, “everything is working our way right now but starting with a lead would be nice”.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Power-play opportunities: Milwaukee 2-7; Philadelphia 2 for 5.
STARS OF THE GAME
Selected by: Anthony Mingioni of Breakaway! Magazine
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