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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Drop 5-3 Decision in Wilkes-Barre

Sunday, December 26, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Kris Beech recorded a goal and two assists to lead the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms tonight at Wachovia Arena.

Michel Ouellet and Ben Eaves each added a goal and an assist while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton evened the season series at two wins apiece. The Penguins have captured four of their last five games to draw within eight points of the first-place Phantoms in the AHL's East Division.

Todd Fedoruk, John Slaney and Joni Pitkanen all scored for Philadelphia, which has lost three games in a row. Antero Niittymaki made 19 saves to drop his third straight start.

Just like their last visit to Wilkes-Barre 15 days ago, the Phantoms scored in the opening minute before relinquishing the lead before the first intermission. Tonight, Fedoruk tallied his first goal of the year just 13 seconds into the game, with assists going to former Penguin Eric Meloche and Boyd Kane.

Slaney also scored 22 second into the game back on Dec. 11 in a 6-4 loss to the Penguins.

Wilkes-Barre evened the score at 4:43 thanks to the first career goal by Eaves - a former teammate of Tony Voce's at Boston College. Ramzi Abid and Colby Armstrong set up the play as Eaves placed the puck off Niittymaki's back and in from behind the net.

Eaves then assisted on Mike Sgroi's first goal at the 9:16 mark, a wrister into the top right corner that made it 2-1. Matt Murley later extended the margin to two goals when he tapped in the rebound of a miss by Beech with 3:04 to go in the first period.

Moments after Kane and Wilkes-Barre's David Koci finished serving matching roughing minors early in the second period, Koci pulled down Kane on a breakaway, leading to a penalty shot. But the Philadelphia team captain was denied by Fleury at the 5:42 mark.

The Penguins then went on a power play 46 seconds later and Ouellet widened the gap to 4-1 when he slammed in a crossing pass by Tomas Surovy at 8:14.

Slaney helped rally the Phantoms in the third period, cutting the deficit to 4-2 with his fourth goal at 6:57. Ben Stafford and Ryan Ready set up the one-timer from the far circle.

Fourteen seconds after Beech was sent off for slashing, Slaney assisted on Pitkanen's third goal at the 14:05 mark. Pitkanen has tallied all three of his goals this year in Wilkes-Barre.

Niittymaki was pulled for a sixth attacker with 51 seconds remaining and Philadelphia had a couple of close calls before Beech scored an empty-netter with 4.6 seconds left to seal the win.

The Phantoms are back in action on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m., when they host the Norfolk Admirals at the Wachovia Spectrum. The game will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet.

Phantoms Notes: Rosario Ruggeri, Freddy Meyer, Wade Skolney, Joey Hope, Riley Cote and Jon Sim were scratched ... Fedoruk's goal was his first in the AHL since Oct. 15, 1999 vs. Providence when he was a rookie.

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