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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Fall 2-1 in Overtime to Norfolk
Philly Suffers First Home Loss of the Season

Saturday, December 4, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Pavel Vorobiev's breakaway goal with 41.1 seconds left in overtime lifted the Norfolk Admirals to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms tonight at the Wachovia Center.

The Phantoms had possession in the Norfolk zone on the decisive play and a centering pass to Patrick Sharp from behind the net barely missed its target before Vorobiev gained control near mid ice.

The right wing dashed in alone on Antero Niittymaki and netted his fifth goal of the year at 4:18 as Norfolk notched its third consecutive win. The Admirals also avenged a 3-2 overtime loss in Philadelphia back on Nov. 14.

Niittymaki finished with 24 saves and R.J. Umberger scored the lone goal for Philadelphia, which suffered its first home loss of the season. The Phantoms had captured their first 12 contests at home, which was the AHL's longest home win streak since 1998-99.

The teams played an uneventful and scoreless first period until Josh Gratton livened things up with an entertaining fight with Norfolk's Mike Brown 7:05 into the second. Former Phantom Jim Vandermeer was sent off for slashing just over three minutes later, setting up Philadelphia's second power play of the game.

With time running out in the man advantage, Ben Stafford sent a cross-ice pass to Tony Voce, who settled the puck and fired a shot from the slot. The rebound came to Umberger on the other side of the crease and the rookie tallied his team-leading ninth goal at the 12:19 mark.

Voce hit the post 1:15 into the third period and Sharp was robbed twice by Norfolk goaltender Michael Leighton with 9:30 remaining before the Admirals evened the score at 1-1 at the 11:15 mark.

During a scramble in front of Niittymaki, Mikhail Yakubov knocked in his fifth goal, with assists going to Shawn Thornton and Rene Bourque.

Phantoms rookie Ben Eager also narrowly missed scoring with 3:57 to play in the third before the game entered overtime.

"We had every opportunity to get up in the hockey game, but we let too many loose pucks hang around," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "We are unhappy with the effort and what we created here and the way we played. We had been on a roll here and maybe this is the wake-up call we need to address some things."

Leighton stopped 36-of-37 shots for Norfolk, which was playing the sixth of an eight-game road trip.

The Phantoms are now off until Friday, when the Hershey Bears visit the Wachovia Center at 7:05 p.m. The game will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet.

Phantoms Notes: Riley Cote, Joey Hope and Jon Sim were healthy scratches ... Wade Skolney missed his eighth straight game due to a concussion ... Philadelphia has not lost in regulation at home since March 21 of last season, a span of 18 games ... The Phantoms fell to 7-1 when a game goes into overtime or a shootout this year.

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