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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Cruise To 6-1 Win Over Albany

Monday, March 8, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Kirk Furey scored twice and Steve Gainey and Mark Murphy each recorded a goal and two assists as the Philadelphia Phantoms cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Albany River Rats tonight at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Ben Stafford, Randy Jones and P.J. Stock added two points apiece for Philadelphia, which had posted a 5-3 win over the River Rats on Sunday night. The Phantoms improved to 11-1-1 in their last 13 home games and 4-1 vs. Albany this season.

Starting for the second straight night, Antero Niittymaki turned aside 26-of-27 shots as Philadelphia gained sole possession of first place in the East Division. The Phantoms now have 79 points, two more than the idle Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Ari Ahonen finished with 29 saves for Albany, which has dropped six of its last seven games.

Philadelphia scored three times in the first five minutes of the game and cruised to a 4-0 lead after the first period. Furey opened the scoring when Stafford hit him cutting to the net at the 2:09 mark. Murphy also set up Furey's seventh of the year.

Furey doubled the lead with a power-play tally at 4:29, as Peter White and Kirby Law fed him for a one-timer at close range. Just 30 seconds later, Stock and Gainey set up Murphy's 14th of the season to make it 3-0.

"Both (goals) were pretty surprising that they went in," commented Furey. "They were just perfect passes from Ben Stafford and Peter White. They were right on my tape and I just shot it at the net. I'm not a goal scorer, so we defensemen just try to hit the net and hope for the best."

Stafford continued the onslaught with 3:57 to go in the first when he followed in a missed shot by Mike Peluso. Ian MacNeil also assisted on Stafford's 10th goal.

"We were saying before the game that it's been a long time since we've gotten the lead on a team," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "I think that this is the first time this year that we got production from every corner of our lineup. We got a goal from every line. It's nice to see everyone get going again."

Former Phantom Craig Darby tallied Albany's lone goal 3:15 into the second period, but Jones answered at the 9:02 mark to make it 5-1. Stock and Gainey received assists on Jones' eighth of the season.

Gainey's ninth goal of the year and second as a Phantom capped the scoring with 8:07 to play in the game. Murphy and Jones set up the goal during a 5-on-3 situation.

The Phantoms improved to 5-0 this year when two defensemen score in a home game and 25-7-1 overall when at least one backliner tallies a goal. Philadelphia tied a season high for most goals in a game and established a season best for largest victory margin.

The Phantoms hit the road this weekend for games in Providence, Manchester and Portland, respectively. Saturday's contest in Manchester will be televised live on CN8. Philadelphia's next home game is on Tuesday, March 16 vs. the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Phantoms Notes: Nick Deschenes, John Slaney, Craig Berube and James Laux were healthy scratches ... Tonight's game was originally scheduled for Jan. 11, but was postponed due to an Eagles home playoff game ... Philadelphia is 10-1-1 when Murphy scores a goal and 6-0-1 when he scores at home ... The Phantoms are 9-2-0-1 when playing its third game in as many days ... The teams will meet for the final time on April 9 in Albany.

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