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Phantoms Shut Out Hersey 3-0
Philadelphia Improves To 9-0 Vs. Bears This Season

Friday, February 20, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

The Philadelphia Phantoms improved to 9-0 against the Hershey Bears this season as Neil Little stopped all 29 shots he faced in a 3-0 victory tonight in front of a crowd of 11,875 at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Little made 12 saves in the first period and 10 in the third as Philadelphia posted its third consecutive shutout over the Bears, extending its scoreless streak against the instate rival to 221:38. The nine straight wins vs. Hershey is a new franchise record for most consecutive victories against one opponent.

"That game was hard fought, Little made some big saves at key times to keep them off the board," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "We've had a good run against them, but we know if we want to win our division we're going to have to beat the Hersheys and Bridgeports. Every game in our division is big, so I think we get their best game and they get our best game."

John Slaney recorded a goal and an assist and matched Jim Wiemer's AHL record for most career goals by a defenseman (124). B.J. Abel and Mark Murphy also scored for the Phantoms, who had lost four of their last five games, including a 2-0 setback vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday.

"This building has been nice for me," commented Slaney, who also holds the AHL record for most goals by a defenseman in a season. "I scored my first NHL goal here and now score a goal tonight to tie the league record for defensemen."

Tom Lawson finished with 33 saves for Hershey, which has dropped five of its last six games. The Bears will seek revenge on Saturday night when they host the Phantoms at 7:05 p.m.

The Phantoms withstood six Hershey shots during the first two minutes of the game before assuming a 1-0 lead at the 8:09 mark. Abel netted his fourth goal on the play as he skated into the Bears zone and blasted in a shot from the far circle. Randy Jones and Little received assists.

The assist by Little was his first since March 23, 2001 and the first by a Phantoms goalie since Maxime Ouellet accomplished the feat on Feb. 3, 2002.

Philadelphia doubled its lead with 59.5 seconds to go in the first period during a 4-on-4 situation. Slaney and Ben Stafford fed Murphy for a 2-on-1 break and the veteran forward registered his 13th goal on a slap shot from the far side.

Slaney tallied the lone goal of the second period to widen the margin to 3-0. P.J. Stock and Mike Peluso worked the puck to Slaney, who rocketed a slap shot past Lawson from the far circle at the 3:16 mark for his eighth of the year.

The teams played scoreless hockey the rest of the way as Little completed his fourth shutout of the season and the team's eighth.

"We seem to have these guys' number," said Little. "We got contributions from our whole team and I think that is why we've been having success here against this team"

The Phantoms begin a season-high seven-game road trip on Saturday in Hershey. The game will be televised live on CN8 at 7:00 p.m. The trip also includes stops in Cincinnati (2 games), Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Norfolk and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before Philadelphia's next home game on Sunday, March 7 vs. Albany.

Phantoms Notes: James Laux was an injured scratch, while Nick Deschenes was a healthy scratch ... Peter White completed his two-game suspension due to an incident last Saturday in Worcester ... Earlier in the day, Boyd Kane was reassigned from the Flyers ... Philadelphia also shut out Syracuse in three straight games from Oct. 10, 1998-March 24, 1999 ... The previous record of eight straight wins over one opponent came vs. Adirondack from Jan. 10, 1998-March 16, 1999 ... The Phantoms improved to 4-0 when wearing their purple third jerseys.

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