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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Skate To 5-1 Win Over Springfield

Friday, March 25, 2005

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Five different Phantoms scored and Antero Niittymaki needed to make just 19 saves as Philadelphia posted a 5-1 victory over the Springfield Falcons tonight at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Ryan Ready and Jon Sim gave Philadelphia a 2-0 lead through 40 minutes of play before Josh Gratton and Tony Voce each recorded a goal and an assist in the third to blow the game wide open.

Philadelphia won for the sixth time in its last eight games as it assumed sole possession of first place in the AHL's East Division. The Phantoms (87 points) are now two points ahead of Binghamton and three in front of Norfolk, both of which were idle tonight.

Niittymaki collected his fifth win in his last six starts to help Philadelphia complete its second straight two-game season sweep of Springfield.

Former Phantom Jean-Marc Pelletier made 25 saves on 30 shots for the Falcons, who have lost 14 consecutive road games.

Ready opened the scoring with 1:38 left in the first period when he wristed a shot past Pelletier from the slot. Mark Murphy and Freddy Meyer assisted on Ready's seventh goal of the year and first since Jan. 28.

Sim continued his scoring spree at the 11:14 mark of the second period to extend the lead to 2-0. After taking a feed from David Printz at center ice, Sim fought through a delayed holding call on a Falcons defenseman and tallied his 33rd goal of the season on a breakaway.

The goal was Sim's 13th in the last 10 games and wound up being his ninth game-winning goal, which is a new team record. Peter White and Mark Greig had shared the previous mark of eight.

Voce widened the gap to 3-0 at 3:12 of the third stanza with a one-timer from Riley Cote. Gratton also assisted on Voce's 19th goal and then tallied his seventh at the 7:48 mark during a scramble in front of the Springfield net. Voce and Cote assisted on the goal.

"I thought we practiced well this week and came in and played with energy tonight," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "We congratulated (Voce, Cote and Gratton) after the game tonight. They were involved physically, they were involved scoring goals and they were responsible without the puck. It's really gratifying to see those guys do so well."

After Jason Jaspers ruined Niittymaki's shutout bid with 8:45 remaining, Ben Eager capped the scoring with a long blast that beat Pelletier near post with 4:11 to play.

R.J. Umberger received an assist on the play to break the Phantoms record for most points by a rookie (51). Ruslan Fedotenko had originally set the mark of 50 points during the 1999-2000 campaign.

Philadelphia closes out the month with road games in Hershey on Saturday and at Binghamton on Wednesday before its next home game on Friday, April 1 at 7:05 p.m. vs. the Hershey Bears.

Phantoms Notes: Joey Hope, Wade Skolney and Eric Meloche were scratched ... B.J. Abel was reassigned to Trenton (ECHL) earlier in the day ... Ready recorded his 200th point as a pro ... Philadelphia is 23-1 when scoring four or more goals in a game ... The Phantoms are 9-5-2 all-time vs. Springfield ... Jaspers' goal ended a scoreless drought of 178:37 for the Falcons ... Philadelphia is averaging 4.2 goals in its last five games ...

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