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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Fall 2-1 In Worcester

Saturday, February 14, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Johnny Pohl and Igor Valeev each scored second-period goals as the Worcester IceCats held on for a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms tonight at the Centrum Centre.

Brent Johnson stopped 27-of-28 shots he faced to notch his second win for Worcester, which improved to 6-2-2 in its last 10 contests. The 26-year-old netminder was appearing in his sixth game of the season with the IceCats.

Mark Murphy scored the lone goal for Philadelphia, which has lost three games in a row for the first time since Dec. 27-Jan. 2. Making his first career AHL start after three previous relief appearances this season with the Phantoms, goaltender Chris Houle also made 27 saves.

The teams played scoreless hockey in the opening period, but Worcester took a power play into the second stanza and capitalized just 26 seconds in. Jame Pollock took a feed from Peter Sejna on the play and launched a shot from the point. Pohl was in front to deflect it past Houle for his 10th goal of the year.

The IceCats doubled their lead at the 12:35 mark of the second period on Valeev's first tally of the season. Former Phantom Aris Brimanis and Jay McClement received assists on the goal.

After being outshot 15-4 in the middle period, the Phantoms held a 16-5 advantage in shots during the third. They cut the lead to 2-1 with 8:19 remaining in the game when Murphy deflected in a shot from the left point by Ben Stafford. Kirby Law also assisted on Murphy's 12th goal and first since Dec. 26.

Houle was pulled for a sixth-attacker with over a minute to play and the Phantoms thought they scored the equalizer with 17 seconds left, but it was disallowed due to an interference minor on Ian MacNeil.

Philadelphia, which suffered a 3-1 decision to the IceCats at home on Jan. 2, has dropped five straight meetings with Worcester, which ties a club record for longest losing streak vs. one team. The Phantoms are also winless in their last seven visits to Worcester (0-4-2-1), which is a franchise record for longest winless streak on the road vs. one team.

The Phantoms conclude their four-game road trip on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. vs. the Lowell Lock Monsters. Philadelphia's next home game is slated for Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 7:05 p.m. vs. the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Phantoms Notes: James Laux and Freddy Meyer did not travel due to injury, while Mike Siklenka was a healthy scratch ... Philadelphia hasn't beaten the IceCats since Oct. 5, 2001 and hasn't won in Worcester since April 6, 1997 ... Law has 11 points (4G, 7A) in his last seven games ... The Phantoms have lost four of their last five road games.

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