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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Defeat Hershey 4-1

Friday, November 5, 2004

By Kevin Kurz
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Dennis Seidenberg tallied three points, including the game-winning goal in the second period on the power play, as the Philadelphia Phantoms won their sixth consecutive game with a 4-1 victory over the Hershey Bears at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Philadelphia has now won 14 straight games against its intra-state rival, including the first two matchups this season, and remains in first place in the East Division with 12 points.

The Phantoms trailed 1-0 at the first intermission before scoring two goals in the second period to take the lead.

First, it was Joey Hope registering his first career pro goal. On the play, Seidenberg threw the puck towards the net from the point. The bouncing disc found its way onto the stick of Hope at the side of the crease, and he chipped it over goaltender Tom Lawson at the 2:46 mark to tie the game.

Hope, normally a defenseman, was playing right wing on a line with Peter White and Ben Eager. Eric Meloche is sidelined with a fractured right hand, and is expected to miss another week.

"He hasn't played all year and we were short bodies up front, and I thought he did a great job," said Head Coach John Stevens. "You're not going to see him score a lot of goals, but certainly in that case it's nice that he was rewarded."

The Phantoms kept up the pressure after the goal, drawing a tripping penalty on Hershey's Jamie Rivers. The league's leading power play heading into the game, the Phantoms took the lead when Seidenberg had time to set up a slap shot and blast it past Lawson after a faceoff win by White, just over five minutes into the period. It was Seidenberg's second goal of the season.

On the ensuing face off, tough guys Josh Gratton and Dennis Bonvie of Hershey engaged in a wild fight at center ice just five seconds after the goal.

Philadelphia finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while killing off all eight Hershey power plays.

"We want to be aggressive and don't want to let them set up," said Hope of the penalty-killing unit. "When they get in the zone, you just want to pressure them and that's what we were able to do tonight."

The Phantoms put the game away when Ryan Ready knocked in the rebound of a Patrick Sharp shot with 5:44 left in the game. With the assist, Sharp extended his point-scoring streak to 10 games, dating back to last season (8G, 6A). Ben Eager capped the scoring with an empty-net goal.

Antero Niittymaki finished with 23 saves in recording his fifth straight victory between the pipes. He was particularly strong in the third period, stopping Marek Svatos alone in front of the crease four minutes in with the Phantoms nursing a one-goal lead, and denying Eric Perrin on a breakaway with just over four minutes left in the game.

"I think in his development now, he's proving he's a quality goaltender," said Stevens. "We're looking for consistency over a long period of time, and he's been consistent for a good stretch here."

Svatos scored the Bears' lone goal just 25 seconds into the game.

"In the first period we didn't play great hockey, but in the second period we got better and then we played well with the lead in the third," said Seidenberg.

The Phantoms continue their homestand on Sunday when they host the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks at 5:05 p.m.

Phantoms Notes: Todd Fedoruk missed the game due to a nasal fracture and orbital sinus fracture. He had surgery on Thursday and will miss 4-to-6 weeks after getting hit with a puck in the face while sitting on the bench on Nov. 3. ... John Slaney returned to the lineup after missing the last game with a bruised foot. ... The Phantoms have outscored the opposition 12-5 in the second period this season. ... The Phantoms' winning streak over Hershey is the longest in the AHL since Saint John defeated Hamilton 14 times in a row, including all 12 during the 2000-01 season ... Wade Skolney was a healthy scratch.

Photos by Boog Williams

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