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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Down Bridgeport 3-1 for 12th Straight Win

Friday, November 19, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Randy Jones recorded a goal and two assists and Antero Niittymaki made 26 saves as the Philadelphia Phantoms extended their win streak to 12 games with a 3-1 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers tonight in front of a crowd of 8,971 at the Wachovia Center.

R.J. Umberger and Mark Murphy also scored for Philadelphia, which hasn't lost since Oct. 17 in Bridgeport. The win streak is a club record and the longest in the AHL since the Albany River Rats won 15 games in a row from Nov. 11-Dec. 23, 1995.

"We just try to play well as a team," said Jones. "It's great to win 12 in a row, but we know we can't get too overconfident. We have to just play our game every night."

Niittymaki, who also shut out the Sound Tigers on Oct. 27, improved to 9-0 during Philadelphia's win streak. The Phantoms are also 9-0 at home this season for their longest such streak since the 1997-98 squad registered nine consecutive victories at the CoreStates Spectrum.

Dieter Kochan finished with 23 saves for Bridgeport, which had a four-game win streak halted and fell to 1-6 on the road in 2004-05.

Philadelphia held an 11-7 advantage in shots during the opening period, but it was Bridgeport that came up with the best scoring opportunities while shorthanded. During a four-minute Phantoms power play, the Sound Tigers' Rob Collins shot wide left on a breakaway and Niittymaki stopped a 2-on-1 break just 30 seconds later.

The game remained scoreless entering the second period until Umberger tallied his fourth goal at the 3:27 mark. Josh Gratton fed Jones for a shot from between the circles and the puck deflected off a Sound Tiger before Umberger tipped it past Kochan for his third goal in the last four games.

Bridgeport's Sean Bergenheim came up empty on a mini-breakaway midway through the second period, but got another opportunity a little later and evened the score at 1-1. Cole Jarrett began the play with a shot from the far circle and Bergenheim knocked the rebound off Niittymaki's pads for his sixth goal at the 14:17 mark.

Philadelphia re-took the lead 4:32 into the third period on Murphy's fifth goal. Patrick Sharp sent the puck around the endboards to Jones, who quickly set up Murphy for a one-timer past Kochan.

Jones then tied his career high for points in a game with 7:56 remaining when he launched a shot through traffic and into the top right corner of the net. Ben Stafford and Boyd Kane received assists on the play.

"We came away with another win," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "Jones had a great game and Niittymaki came up really big for us tonight."

The Phantoms continue their busy weekend with games in Albany and Providence on Saturday and Sunday. Philadelphia's next home game is set for Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 7:05 p.m. at the Wachovia Spectrum vs. Providence.

Phantoms Notes: Todd Fedoruk and Riley Cote sat out due to injuries ... Freddy Meyer completed his two-game AHL suspension tonight ... Joey Hope was a healthy scratch ... Philadelphia scored first for just the fifth time this season ... Niittymaki played in his 100th game as a Phantom ... The Phantoms have outscored their opponents, 36-16, over the final two periods and overtime this season.

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