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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Defeat Binghamton 2-1 in Shootout to Extend Win Streak to 11 Games

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Patrick Sharp scored Philadelphia's lone goal in regulation and tallied the game-winning shootout goal as the Phantoms extended their club-record win streak to 11 games with a 2-1 victory over the Binghamton Senators. The Phantoms' third-annual School Day Game drew a crowd of 7,032 at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Antero Niittymaki made 20 saves over the first three periods and overtime before stopping all six Binghamton penalty shot attempts during the shootout. The Phantoms also came up empty in their first five attempts vs. Senators goaltender Ray Emery, but Sharp made good on the team's sixth try with a wrister into the top right corner of the net.

"I always wanted to be a shooter in a shootout," said Sharp. "When the game is on the line, you definitely want to be that guy who can try to win one for your team. So when John (Stevens) called my name, I was happy."

"That shows his character, that he can come through in a situation with so much pressure and his team counting on him, and he comes through and scores," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens.

The Phantoms now own the AHL's first 11-game win streak since the Providence Bruins accomplished the feat from Dec. 23-Jan. 16 during the 1998-99 season. Niittymaki is 8-0 with a 1.46 goals-against average during the streak.

Philadelphia improved to 2-0 in shootouts this season and is off to its best-ever start at home (8-0). The eight-game home win streak is tops in the league this season and the longest in club history since the 1998-99 squad also won eight in a row from March 16-April 9.

Emery stopped 25-of-26 shots for Binghamton, which has lost seven of its last nine games. The Senators also dropped a 3-2 home decision to the Phantoms four days ago.

Binghamton drew first blood in the game on a shorthanded goal by Denis Hamel with 3:22 to go in the first period. As teammate Chris Kelly sat in the box due to an obstruction-hooking minor, Hamel took advantage of a Joni Pitkanen turnover and netted his eighth goal on a breakaway.

Senators center Jason Spezza also had a breakaway attempt in the final minute of the first period, but Niittymaki stood his ground.

Philadelphia rookie Tony Voce had a golden opportunity to even the score with 3:30 left in the second stanza when he intercepted a clearing pass by Emery, who was out of his crease. But Voce's shot hit the right post.

The Phantoms were finally able to beat Emery, though, just over three minutes later during a 4-on-3 power play. Ryan Ready and John Slaney worked the puck around to Sharp, who tallied his sixth goal with 23.1 seconds left in the period.

The teams then played scoreless hockey the rest of the way, including Niittymaki stopping Hamel on a breakaway midway though the overtime session.

The Phantoms return to action on Friday at 7:05 p.m. when they host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Wachovia Center. The game will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet. Philadelphia then hits the road for games in Albany and Providence on Saturday and Sunday.

Phantoms Notes: Todd Fedoruk and Riley Cote sat out due to injuries ... Joey Hope was a healthy scratch ... Freddy Meyer served the first game of a two-game AHL suspension ... Jon Sim made his Phantoms debut ... The Phantoms have scored first just four times all season ... Binghamton was 0-for-7 on the power play, while Philadelphia was 1-for-7 ... Philadelphia is 2-1 all-time in its School Day Games.

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