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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Defeat Grand Rapids, 6-1

Sunday, February 20, 2005

By Kevin Kurz
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Patrick Sharp had two goals and an assist and Neil Little made 30 saves in his first start in over a month as the Phantoms routed the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena, 6-1.

The Phantoms jumped ahead early with two goals in the first period before Blake Sloan cut the lead to 2-1 early in the second period. Philadelphia responded with three goals later in the frame, however, to take control of the game.

First, John Slaney scored on the power play on a slap shot from the top of the circle that went just underneath the crossbar at 4:09 to make it 3-1. Later, Sharp went around Griffins defenseman Brett Lebda one-on-one and his quick wrist shot found the back of the net at 18:08.

Tony Voce's second goal in as many nights just 41 seconds later made it a 5-1 game, as he was left alone at the side of the net and was spotted by Ryan Ready.

Sharp capped the scoring with a goal 18 seconds into the third period as the Phantoms cruised to their fourth straight victory and fifth consecutive on the road.

Philadelphia came out of the gate strong in taking the early lead. Ben Eager took a shot from a bad angle, but R.J. Umberger was parked in front of the net and the puck bounced off of Umberger and behind Grand Rapids goalie Drew MacIntyre 7:12 into the contest.

Dennis Seidenberg picked up his eighth goal of the season at 15:20, when his blast got through traffic in front of the net as MacIntyre was screened on the play.

Little was starting in goal for the first time since Jan. 14 in Norfolk, as Antero Niittymaki had started the last 13 games in a row. The victory was Little's 199th in the AHL.

The Phantoms finished 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off all four of Grand Rapids' opportunities, increasing their overall penalty killing streak to 31 dating back to Feb. 5 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The victory gave Philadelphia a season split with the Griffins, who won 4-1 in Philadelphia on Feb. 4 in the teams' only other game this season.

Philadelphia concludes its season-high five-game road trip on Wednesday in Cincinnati. The Phantoms then return home to take on the Hershey Bears on Friday and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins next Sunday.

Phantoms Notes: Wade Skolney returned to action after missing the last 15 games due to a concussion. ... Not dressing for the Phantoms were David Printz, Randy Jones, Rosario Ruggeri, Jeff Smith, Mark Murphy, Josh Gratton and Joey Hope. ... Ben Stafford recorded his 100th point in the AHL with an assist on Sharp's second period goal. ... Sharp assisted on Seidenberg's goal for his 100th point as a Phantom.

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