|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Match AHL Record with 16th Straight Win
Friday, November 26, 2004
By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent
The Philadelphia Phantoms matched an AHL record with their 16th consecutive victory tonight at the Wachovia Center as Ben Stafford compiled four points in a 4-2 win over the Hershey Bears.
Playing in front of a team season-high crowd of 11,064, Philadelphia tied the league record for longest win streak, which was established by the Baltimore Skipjacks from Feb. 23-March 23, 1985. The Phantoms can now break the record on Saturday when they face off with the Bears again in Hershey.
"The fact that we have gone without a loss (for 16 games) is a surprise to all of us," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "Everyone is doing something to contribute, which is the major part of our streak so far. When you look at the American Hockey League, it's been around for so long. The fact that we have tied this record is pretty incredible."
Stafford scored twice and added two assists for his first career four-point game in the AHL. Defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Freddy Meyer tallied Philadelphia's other goals, Mark Murphy contributed three assists and Antero Niittymaki stopped 19-of-21 shots to win his 12th consecutive start.
"We really try not to make a lot about it," said Murphy about the streak. "As cliche as it may sound, we really are just taking it one game at a time. We don't get too high or too low around here, we just keep playing and keep winning."
Philadelphia remained unbeaten at home this year, as its 11-game home win streak is tops in the AHL this season and the longest by the Phantoms since registering a league-record 19 straight home wins during the 1996-97 campaign.
Overshadowed by the AHL record-tying feat was Philadelphia's 15th consecutive victory over the Bears, as the Phantoms swept last season's 12-game season series and have captured the first three meetings in 2004-05.
Tom Lawson finished with 26 saves for Hershey, which has lost nine straight visits to Philadelphia. The Bears had a season-high two-game win streak halted and have lost four of their last five on the road.
Seidenberg tallied the lone goal of the first period after a face-off win by Stafford in the Bears end. Seidenberg launched a long slap shot that sailed past Lawson for his third goal at the 4:30 mark.
Philadelphia doubled its lead 3:06 into the second stanza on Meyer's fourth goal of the season. Stafford took a feed from Murphy on the play and back-tapped it to Meyer, who netted another long shot thanks to a screen in front by Ryan Ready.
Hershey narrowed the deficit to 2-1 at 12:28 on Brett Clark's power-play goal before Stafford scored twice in a span of 51 seconds to widen the gap to 4-1.
The Phantoms made it a two-goal game with 2:04 left in the second period after Hershey failed to clear the puck while shorthanded. Murphy came up with the puck at the side of the net and fed Stafford for a one-timer from between the circles that barely trickled over the goal line.
Stafford struck again at 18:47 when he followed in the rebound of a Ready shot. Murphy received his third assist of the period on Stafford's fourth goal of the year.
Hershey's Mathieu Darche capped the scoring 10 minutes into the final period, netting his eighth goal from Jeff Ulmer and Clark.
After Saturday's game in Hershey, the Phantoms close out the month with a contest in Syracuse on Sunday. Philadelphia's next home game is set for Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. vs. the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Phantoms Notes: Todd Fedoruk, Ben Eager, Patrick Sharp and Wade Skolney sat out due to injuries ... Jeff Smith missed the game because of a death in his family ... B.J. Abel was recalled from Trenton earlier in the day to replace Smith ... The game started 15 minutes late due to this afternoon's Philadelphia 76ers game that went into overtime ... R.J. Umberger had his four-game goal-scoring streak come to an end ... Philadelphia is 15-0 when scoring at least three goals in a game.