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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Open Preseason with 3-2 Shootout Loss to Albany

Saturday, October 2, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

The Philadelphia Phantoms opened their four-game exhibition schedule tonight with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Albany River Rats at the Polonia Bank Flyers Skate Zone in Northeast Philadelphia.

Philadelphia and Albany skated to a 2-2 draw through three periods of play and the five-minute overtime session, giving the teams their first experience at the AHL's new shootout rule. The River Rats picked up the victory when Aleksander Suglobov was the only one to score among the 10 players chosen to compete. Suglobov was the second of five River Rats shooting against Phantoms goaltender Antero Niittymaki.

Coming up empty in the shootout for the Phantoms vs. Albany netminder Ari Ahonen were Mathieu Brunelle, Tony Voce, Joni Pitkanen, R.J. Umberger and Patrick Sharp.

Zach Parise and Bobby Allen each scored in regulation for Albany, which will host the Phantoms in another preseason game this Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. at South Mountain Arena in West Orange, N.J.

Niittymaki finished with 32 saves, while Sharp and Pitkanen provided the offense for Philadelphia. The Phantoms' next home preseason game is set for Friday, Oct. 8 at 5:00 p.m. vs. the Norfolk Admirals at the Sovereign Bank Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.

Sharp opened the scoring 4:16 into the game during the first power play of the night. Pitkanen accepted a pass from Brunelle on the play and fired a shot on Albany starting goaltender Scott Clemmensen. Sharp collected the rebound and lifted it over Clemmensen for an early 1-0 lead.

Albany knotted the score with 11 seconds to go in the first period during a 4-on-4 situation. David Hale's initial shot caromed high off Niittymaki to an oncoming Parise, who placed the puck into the net off his right shoulder.

Following a scoreless second stanza, Allen gave the River Rats a 2-1 lead with a blast from beyond the far circle at 11:50 of the third. Matt DeMarchi and Suglobov received assists on the goal.

But Pitkanen forced overtime with just 1:59 remaining on a shorthanded goal from Brunelle and Stephen Wood.

Ahonen earned the win by stopping 8-of-9 shots during the third period and overtime. Clemmensen made 19 saves over the first two periods.

Phantoms Notes: Phantoms not dressing tonight included Freddy Meyer, Randy Jones, Dennis Seidenberg, Ryan Ready, Eric Meloche, John Slaney, Peter White and Boyd Kane ... Sharp, Ben Stafford and Mark Murphy served as assistant captains ... Philadelphia finished 1-for-10 on the power play, while Albany was 0-for-8 ... The Phantoms are now 5-3-2 vs. Albany in preseason play since 2000-01 ... Josh Gratton and Jeff Smith each fought twice.

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