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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Fall 2-1 in Game Five of East Division Semifinals
Game Six in Philly on Saturday Night

Friday, April 30, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Blake Bellefeuille's power-play goal with 1:54 remaining was the difference tonight at the Scope as the Norfolk Admirals posted a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms in Game Five of the East Division Semifinals.

Philadelphia, which captured Games Three and Four in Norfolk earlier in the week, still owns a three games to two lead in the best-of-seven series. The Phantoms will host Game Six on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the Wachovia Center.

Norfolk went on the decisive power play at the 16:19 mark of the third period when Phantoms defenseman Wade Skolney was sent off for high sticking. With 13 seconds to go in the man advantage, Marty Wilford accepted a pass from Anton Babchuk and unleashed a shot from just inside the blue line.

Camped out beyond the crease among a crowd of players, Bellefeuille deflected the shot past Philadelphia goaltender Antero Niittymaki for his first goal of the postseason. Niittymaki was pulled for a sixth attacker in the final minute, but the Phantoms could not record the equalizer.

Niittymaki finished with 23 saves, while Norfolk netminder Craig Anderson stopped 26-of-27 shots.

Following a scoreless first period, Norfolk opened the scoring for the first time in the series. Quintin Laing took a feed from Ajay Baines on the play and attempted a shot from the far circle. Niittymaki redirected the shot behind the net and Laing got his own rebound, skated around to the other side and slid it in near post with 8:10 to go in the second.

Johnathan Aitken also assisted on Laing's fifth goal of the postseason, which ended Niittymaki's personal scoreless streak at 125:24.

Philadelphia pressured Anderson heavily late in the second and finally evened the score 3:27 into the third period. During a mad scramble in front of the Norfolk net, Peter Vandermeer tallied his first playoff goal, with assists going to B.J. Abel and P.J. Stock.

Games Seven, if necessary, will also be played in Philadelphia on Monday, May 3 at the Wachovia Center.

Phantoms Notes: Stephen Wood, James Laux, Les Borsheim, Stefan Ruzicka and Craig Berube were scratched ... Ben Eager and Dennis Seidenberg did not travel ... Philadelphia fell to 2-6 all-time in Game Five of a playoff series ... The Phantoms were 0-for-6 on the power play.

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