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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Lose 4-3 at Hershey in Shootout

Friday, December 31, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Mathieu Darche scored a hat trick in regulation and Peter Budaj did not allow a goal during the shootout as the Hershey Bears pulled out a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms tonight at the Giant Center.

In the 100th regular-season meeting between the teams, the score was knotted at 1-1 through two periods before Patrick Sharp and Jon Sim each scored to put the Phantoms up by two goals. But Darche tallied a pair of goals in a span of 1:49 late in the period to force overtime.

Following five scoreless minutes of overtime, Sim, Sharp, Joni Pitkanen and R.J. Umberger each came up empty in shootout attempts vs. Budaj. Meanwhile, Marek Svatos and Eric Perrin both converted against Antero Niittymaki to lift Hershey to its fifth win in its last six games.

Todd Fedoruk also scored and Niittymaki made 28 saves for Philadelphia, which has lost a season-high five straight games. The skid matches the longest losing streak from all of 2003-04.

After winning 16 consecutive meetings with the Bears, the Phantoms have now dropped two in a row. Philadelphia also had an eight-game winning streak in Hershey snapped.

Philadelphia struck first thanks to a goal by Fedoruk with 1:32 left in the first period. Eric Meloche won a face-off to begin the play before Dennis Seidenberg gained control and dropped a pass back to Fedoruk, who uncorked a long slap shot from beyond the far circle.

Fedoruk has scored in two of the last three games after being held without a goal in his first seven games of the year.

In the second period, Niittymaki robbed former Phantom Andre Savage during an early power play and then stopped Darche on a breakaway. But the Bears had two 4-on-3 advantages in the period and evened the score during their second try on Darche's 12th goal.

Perrin took a feed from Svatos on the play and had his pass deflect off a Phantom's skate to Darche, who swatted the puck in from the doorstep at the 10-minute mark. The goal ended Niittymaki's personal scoreless streak at 60:55.

Sharp made it 2-1 at 3:54 of the third period with his 13th goal. On the power play, Ryan Ready and Pitkanen fed Sharp, who swooped in from behind the net and slammed in his own rebound.

Sim widened the gap to 3-1 at 9:30 when he followed in Umberger's blast that hit the post. John Slaney also assisted on Sim's 10th goal of the year and eighth as a Phantom.

But Darche rallied the Bears by deflecting in a shot by Nick Naumenko with 3:57 remaining and then completing his hat trick with 2:08 left during a flurry in front of the net.

The Phantoms play in Albany on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. before returning home to host the Rochester Americans on Sunday at 6:35 p.m.

Phantoms Notes: Freddy Meyer, Wade Skolney, Joey Hope, Riley Cote and Boyd Kane were scratched ... Fedoruk and former Phantom Dennis Bonvie fought six seconds into the game and again with 4:45 left in the second period ... After winning its first three shootouts, Philadelphia has lost three in a row ... The Phantoms lead the season series 4-2 and the all-time series 53-39-8 ... Philadelphia fell to 0-4 all-time on New Year's Eve.

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