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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Break AHL Record with 17th Consecutive Win

Saturday, November 27, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

The Philadelphia Phantoms established a new American Hockey League record tonight with their 17th straight win, posting a 3-1 victory over the Hershey Bears at GIANT Center.

Following a pair of season-opening road losses, Philadelphia has now reeled off 17 victories in a row to break the league record for longest win streak (16), which was established by the Baltimore Skipjacks from Feb. 23-March 23, 1985.

"It's hard to do," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "Things have to go your way obviously, but this group has rebounded from some awful, dicey situations - down the last couple minutes of a game, pulling our goalie one time to tie a game and then win in overtime, we won a couple of games in a shootout - so they've really showed a lot of staying power. We've stayed mentally tough and have shown an ability to stay with it and get the job done."

The win was also the 16th in a row over Hershey, as Philadelphia swept last year's 12-game season series and has captured the first four meetings in 2004-05.

Ben Stafford, Mark Murphy and Tony Voce each scored for the Phantoms and Neil Little stopped 40-of-41 shots to improve to 5-0 on the year. Little is also unbeaten in his last eight starts (7-0-1) dating back to last season.

"This is a wonderful accomplishment and we can all be very proud of it, but it really hasn't been in our discussions at all," said Little about the AHL record. "We truly do take it one game at a time and hopefully we keep it going."

Peter Budaj finished with 28 saves for Hershey, which also dropped a 4-2 decision in Philadelphia on Friday night. The Bears have lost six of their last nine games overall and haven't beaten the Phantoms since April 5, 2003.

Hershey outshot the Phantoms by a 20-6 margin during the first period, but only came away tied at 1-1 through 20 minutes of play. David Masse opened the scoring at the 9:44 mark when he followed in the rebound of a Brett Clark shot. Eric Perrin also assisted on the power-play goal, Masse's third of the year.

Philadelphia knotted the score with a power-play score of its own at 13:20. Murphy began the sequence with a pass behind the net to Ryan Ready, who found Stafford alone outside the crease for an easy tap-in. It was the fifth goal of the year for Stafford, who had recorded a career-high four points on Friday.

The Phantoms took control in the second period and assumed a 3-1 lead thanks to goals 49 seconds apart by Murphy and Voce.

Murphy netted his seventh of the season unassisted at 11:05 following a turnover by Hershey's Jeff Finger. Murphy darted down the far side and launched a shot that went through Budaj's pads and trickled off Clark's skate past the goal line.

Less than a minute later, defenseman Randy Jones led a rush into the Bears zone. He centered the puck to R.J. Umberger, who touched it left to fellow rookie Voce, who deposited his seventh goal by a helpless Budaj.

The Phantoms close out the month on Sunday with a game in Syracuse before returning home to take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Phantoms Notes: Todd Fedoruk, Ben Eager, Patrick Sharp and Wade Skolney sat out due to injuries ... B.J. Abel was a healthy scratch ... The teams had to be separated during pre-game warm-ups ... Hershey's 41 total shots and 20 during the first period were both season highs by a Philadelphia opponent ... Stafford has nine points (4G, 5A) in his last eight games ... Jones has seven points (1G, 6A) in his last six games ... Philadelphia has won its last eight visits to Hershey and leads the all-time series, 56-32-8-5 ... Baltimore had its 16-game win streak stopped by Hershey in 1985.

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