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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Hold on for 4-3 Win over Hershey

Friday, April 1, 2005

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Patrick Sharp and Tony Voce each recorded a goal and two assists to lead the Philadelphia Phantoms to a 4-3 victory over the Hershey Bears tonight in front of a crowd of 8,425 at the Wachovia Spectrum.

Dennis Seidenberg added a goal and an assist and Antero Niittymaki made 22 saves as Philadelphia won its fourth straight home game and improved to 7-3 vs. the Bears this season.

The Phantoms picked up their eighth win in their last 11 games, but remained one point behind first-place Binghamton in the East Division. The Senators, who pulled out a 3-2 shootout win over Worcester tonight, have played one more game than Philadelphia.

"We lost a game in Binghamton the other day in which we didn't really feel like we played very well and it was such a big game for both teams," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "We thought it was important to come back and play well at home. At this part of our schedule, every game is a tough game with a lot of meaning for both teams, so certainly it was big for us to win."

Hershey's Tom Lawson made 17 saves on 21 shots through two periods to fall to 0-8 all-time against Philadelphia. Peter Budaj then stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third.

Philadelphia jumped on top just 1:38 into the game when Sharp deflected in a Joni Pitkanen shot from the near circle. Voce also received an assist on Sharp's 22nd goal of the year, while Pitkanen extended his assist streak to a team season-high seven straight games.

Hershey responded with Eric Perrin's 23rd goal at the 5:09 mark before the Phantoms assumed a 2-1 lead during a lengthy possession in the Bears zone. Voce and Sharp eventually worked the puck out top to Seidenberg, who uncorked a long slap shot that trickled through Lawson's pads with 6:31 to go in the first period.

The Bears again drew even 41 seconds into the second stanza when Mathieu Darche followed in the rebound of a shot by Martin Hlinka. Marek Svatos also set up Darche's 26th goal and ninth vs. the Phantoms this season.

But Philadelphia retaliated with goals by Voce and Boyd Kane 58 seconds apart late in the second to take the lead for good.

Just 14 seconds after Bears defenseman Martin Wilde was sent off for holding, Voce one-timed in a feed from Jon Sim at the 17:55 mark. Seidenberg also set up Voce's 20th goal and team-best ninth power-play tally.

While the crowd was still screaming, Sharp and Randy Jones fed Kane for his ninth goal at 18:53 that widened the gap to 4-2.

Hershey drew within a goal 41 seconds into the third on Hlinka's fourth goal, but would not beat Niittymaki again as it had its three-game road win streak come to an end.

"This game was important," said Sharp. "It's been a long season and we're in the home stretch. We're in a battle for first place and home ice advantage in the playoffs, so every game is crucial for us. It was a good game for us tonight."

Philadelphia plays at Norfolk on Saturday night before returning home to take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Sunday at 6:05 p.m.

Phantoms Notes: Joey Hope, Mark Murphy and David Printz were scratched ... Josh Gratton played in his 100th game as a pro ... Sim is on an eight-game point streak (7G, 5A) ... R.J. Umberger had his five-game point streak stopped ... Philadelphia is averaging 4.4 goals in its last five games.

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