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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Win Home Opener 5-3 Over Hamilton

Friday, October 22, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Patrick Sharp and Philadelphia native Tony Voce each scored third-period power-play goals to lift the Phantoms to a 5-3 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs tonight in front of 10,152 fans at the Wachovia Center.

Eric Meloche, Riley Cote and Peter White also scored for Philadelphia, which posted its first win of the season after dropping a pair of games on the road last weekend. Goaltender Antero Niittymaki earned the win by stopping 19-of-22 shots.

Tomas Plekanec tallied two power-play goals and Dan Ellis finished with 45 saves for Hamilton, which has lost three straight meetings against the Phantoms.

Philadelphia took its first lead of the season 10:08 into the opening period during a 4-on-4 situation. Randy Jones began the play by keeping the puck in the Bulldogs zone and centering it along the blue line to fellow defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who blasted a one-timer. Stationed on the inner edge of the far circle, Meloche deflected the shot into the upper right corner for his first goal as a Phantom.

After Plekanec evened the score with a power-play goal at 14:19 of the first, Cote put the Phantoms back on top 2-1 just 29 seconds later during a flurry in front of the Hamilton net. Jeff Smith and Ben Eager assisted on Cote's first career AHL goal.

The Phantoms outshot Hamilton, 24-7, in the first and fell one shot shy of their club record for most attempted in a period.

Jason Ward's wrister knotted the score at 2-2 at 7:24 of the second stanza, but the Phantoms struck back on White's first goal of the season.

Voce took the initial shot and defenseman David Printz followed with an attempt off the rebound. The ensuing carom came out to White between the circles and the club's all-time leading scorer poked it past Ellis at the 9:43 mark to make it 3-2.

The assist was Voce's first career point as a pro.

Plekanec responded with his second power-play goal of the night at 16:38 of the second period as Hamilton again tied the score, but the Phantoms answered again to move ahead for good.

During a slashing minor on Plekanec, Mark Murphy and Ryan Ready fed Sharp for his second goal of the year 6:34 into the third period that gave Philadelphia a 4-3 advantage. Sharp is the only Phantom to register a point in each of the team's first three games.

Voce capped the scoring with his first career goal with 88 seconds remaining. Meloche and Printz set up the power-play marker.

The Phantoms are back in action on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. when they travel to take on the Hershey Bears. Philadelphia's next home game is set for Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 7:05 p.m. vs. the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Wachovia Center.

Phantoms Notes: Todd Fedoruk, Wade Skolney and Joey Hope were scratched ... Boyd Kane sat out due to a broken bone in his left hand ... The Phantoms welcomed their three millionth fan in franchise history - Kate Coyle of Lansdowne, Pa. ... Philadelphia improved to 6-2-1 all-time in home openers.

Photos by Gregg Williams

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