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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Lose 4-1 to Griffins

Friday, February 4, 2005

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Joey MacDonald stopped 36-of-37 shots to lead the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms tonight in front of 7,764 fans at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Four different Griffins scored and Todd Robinson and Bryan Helmer each contributed two assists as Grand Rapids improved to 3-0 all-time when playing in Philadelphia. The Phantoms are set to make their only appearance in Grand Rapids on Feb. 20.

Randy Jones tallied the only goal and Antero Niittymaki finished with 24 saves for the Phantoms, who dropped their third game in a row, including a similar 4-1 defeat in Hershey two days ago.

"We have all the talent here, but I just don't know what's going on," said Phantoms forward Eric Meloche. "It's unexplainable right now. We're trying to figure it out, but it's taking more time than we need. Tonight was definitely a pitiful night in front of the home crowd."

Grand Rapids struck first at the 9:00 mark of the opening period on Tomas Kopecky's wrister from the side of the net. Nathan Robinson and Helmer assisted on the left winger's second goal of the season.

Ryan Barnes doubled the Griffins' lead with 5:23 to go in the first as he tapped in a feed from Matt Ellis, and Niklas Kronwall's power-play goal 49 seconds into the second stanza widened the gap to 3-0. Philadelphia also allowed the first three goals of the game in Hershey on Wednesday.

Philadelphia got on the board at 3:03 of the second with a power-play goal of its own. Mark Murphy took a feed from B.J. Abel on the play and centered the puck from the corner to Jones, who deposited it past MacDonald for his fourth goal of the year.

The rest of the middle period did not include any more scoring, but it did feature two failed breakaways by the Griffins and Philadelphia coming up empty on a five-minute power play. The Phantoms also had a goal disallowed with 1:41 left when the referee ruled the net had already come off its moorings.

Philadelphia did control the action in the third period, outshooting the Griffins 12-6, but could not beat MacDonald. Jiri Hudler then capped the scoring with a power-play goal into an empty net with 1:04 remaining.

"There is no spirit here, we're not getting any except for our role guys," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "You need to compete to be a hockey player, you need to win battles, you need to be willing to pay a price to score goals, and we're not doing that right now. Our best players are going to have to start being our best players."

The Phantoms play in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday night and are at Norfolk on Wednesday before returning home next Friday at 7:05 p.m. to entertain the Lowell Lock Monsters.

Phantoms Notes: Wade Skolney, Josh Gratton, Joey Hope, Rosario Ruggeri, Jeff Smith and Todd Fedoruk were scratched ... Jones' goal snapped an 0-for-28 slump on the power play for the Phantoms ... Ben Stafford played in his 200th game as a Phantom ... Philadelphia fell to 4-1 all-time on Feb. 4.

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