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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Defeat Worcester 4-2

Friday, March 18, 2005

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Ben Stafford, John Slaney and Boyd Kane all scored third-period goals to lift the Philadelphia Phantoms to a 4-2 victory over the Worcester IceCats tonight at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Jon Sim added a power-play goal in the second period for Philadelphia, which has captured four of its last five games. Antero Niittymaki won his fourth straight start by stopping 23-of-25 shots.

With the victory, Philadelphia remained tied with Norfolk for second place in the AHL's East Division with 82 points. Binghamton owns first place with 83, but the Senators and Admirals have both played two more games than the Phantoms.

Curtis Sanford finished with 14 saves on 18 shots for the IceCats, who have dropped three games in a row, including a 4-1 loss to the Phantoms last Sunday in Worcester.

Following a scoreless opening period in which the teams combined for just seven shots, Worcester went on a five-minute power play early in the second when Slaney received a high-sticking major. But the Phantoms limited the IceCats to only two shots during the power play while coming up with two quality shorthanded scoring opportunities.

Later in the period, Worcester's Colin Hemingway was sent off for obstruction-hooking and the Phantoms capitalized to take a 1-0 lead. Joni Pitkanen began the play by stretching to keep the puck in the IceCats zone and shuttled it to Randy Jones at the point. The defenseman let fly a wrister and Sim deflected it past Sanford at the 9:18 mark for his 28th goal of the year and 26th as a Phantom.

Sim also continued his recent scoring spree, as he now has 17 points (12G, 5A) in his last 11 games.

Jon DiSalvatore evened the score at 1-1 at 7:02 of the third stanza when he tapped in a centering pass by Jeff Hoggan, but Stafford answered 32 seconds later to put the Phantoms ahead for good. Josh Gratton and Wade Skolney set up Stafford's 12th goal, a slap shot from the far circle during a 2-on-1 rush.

Slaney padded the lead to 3-1 at 11:06 when his wrister made its way through traffic and into the far corner. Patrick Sharp received the lone assist on Slaney's ninth goal.

Kane widened the gap to three goals with his seventh of the year at 15:15 before Brendan Brooks capped the scoring with 3:41 to play.

"We know we can play with anyone in the third period if we're tied or close," said Eric Meloche, who assisted on Kane's goal. "We have a good team and once we realize we have a better team than we think, we'll be able to play even harder."

The Phantoms play in Binghamton on Saturday night before returning home to take on the Portland Pirates at 6:05 p.m. on Sunday. Comcast SportsNet will televise Sunday's game, beginning at 7:05 p.m.

Phantoms Notes: Joey Hope, B.J. Abel, David Printz and Todd Fedoruk were scratched ... Stafford played in his 300th game as a pro ... Philadelphia improved to 21-1 when scoring four or more goals ... The Phantoms swept the two-game season series with Worcester, but still trails 7-11-2 all-time vs. the IceCats ... Slaney has 10 points (2G, 8A) in his last nine games ... Philadelphia wore special green St. Patrick's Day jerseys and auctioned them off for charity following the game.

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