|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Get Opening Night Win
Murphy Makes Magic, 11,584 Witness Phantons 4-3 OT Win
Saturday, October 8, 2005
By Brian Smith
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phantoms 10th Anniversary season kicked off in grand fashion on Saturday night as the defending Calder Cup Champions celebrated their 2005 crown. A lavish pregame ceremony highlighted the pregame festivities at the Wachovia Center, as championship rings were presented to the players and staff. Mark Murphy touched off the postgame party with an overtime goal in the Phantoms 4-3 win over Binghamton.
When the puck was dropped, the visitors struck first. After serving the Senators maiden penalty of the season, veteran Steve Martins was fed perfectly from the box and in on a breakaway. A wrister sealed the deal at 8:44. The Phantoms, however, charged right back. A shade under three minutes later BJ Abel would score his first of two on the night.
The play developed deep in the Senators zone, as Triston Grant broke clean from the B-Sens defenseman at the hash marks for a 2-on-0. A goalmouth pass from the rookie to Abel tied the game. Abel was on the spot again for the go-ahead goal with 5:26 remaining on the first period clock. He was camped alone at the top of the crease as Eric Meloche forechecked behind the net and sent the puck to the awaiting Abel.
In the second, the Senators tied the game in an ugly fashion on the power play. A wrister from the left wing boards pinballed off a Phantoms defender in front, hit Philadelphia goaltender Jamie Storr, and then trickled over the line. Filip Novak was given credit for Binghamton's good fortunes.
Danny Bois reclaimed the lead for the Senators in the opening moments of the third with a short-range shot, filtering off the right pad of Storr and in. The visitors gained their momentum with a 15-9 shots advantage in the second, after being outgunned 17-7 in the opening stanza.
That score looked like it would stand at 3-2 in favor of Binghamton until newly anointed Phantoms Captain John Slaney scored with just 2.2 seconds remaining. With the goaltender on the bench in favor of the extra skater, Slaney was presented with a perfect pass from R.J. Umberger in the left wing circle and he one-timed the equalizer over the shoulder of Thompson.
In the extra session the Sens pushed the pace, but it was Mark Murphy's breakaway goal that gave the Phantoms the extra point and the win. Murphy was directed in on a breakaway from the neutral zone by defenseman David Printz. When Murphy went to make a move on Thompson, the puck slipped off his backhand and through the legs of the netminder, stirring the crowd of 11,584 into a full lather.
Coach John Stevens reflected on the win noting, "We did a lot of things wrong tonight, but the fact that we didn't go away, stayed with the hockey game and got two points - We've got a lot to work on, but we've got a lot to work with too."
SLAPSHOTS: Riley Cote had a spirited bout with Brett Clouthier at the game's midway point. The two went toe-to-toe for nearly 45 seconds---The three stars: 1. PHI-Murphy 2. PHI-Slaney 3. BNG-Thompson
ROOKIE REPELS RATS
Beauchemin Stops 37 in Phantoms Win
The 2005 Calder Cup Champions are defending their title well. On opening night, they tied the game with a buzzer-beater and then proceeded to win in overtime. On Sunday, with the Albany River Rats in town, they used that momentum and pocketed three first period goals en route to a 4-2 win at the Wachovia Center.
Just 5:01 in, Philadelphia native Tony Voce popped home a rebound from one of Saturday night's heroes, John Slaney. With the man advantage, the captain bombed a 20-footer at goaltender Frank Doyle. Voce found the ricochet and lit the lamp.
Only 13 seconds after Jason Ryznar tied the game at 10:42, Philadelphia took the lead right back. A clearing attempt from deep in the Albany zone was knocked down inside the blue line by defenseman Charlie Cook. He proceeded to sling the puck at the Albany cage and R.J. Umberger changed the puck's direction.
With Albany on the power play, Voce put bookends on the first period scoring, cashing in again on special teams. The speedy winger was sent dashing in on a breakaway by Umberger, settling a bouncing puck as he bounded in over the blue liner with a trailing River Rat draped on his back.
"Tony's a very responsible guy on both sides of the puck and he's explosive offensively, remarked Head Coach John Stevens. "He and R.J. have very good chemistry together. Consequently, I end up playing them in almost every situation imaginable."
Before the period was over, with David Printz and David Clarkson on the undercard, heavyweights Josh Gratton and Rat Cam Janssen squared off. The two traded knuckles only moments after Printz and Clarkson were seated in the penalty box. Accounts had the tussle lasting more than 40 seconds.
Following a scoreless second, Janssen, with his gloves on, put Albany's second goal on the board. Parked 15 feet on top of the crease, he redirected an Aaron Voros bid.
The uneasiness of a one-goal lead for Philadelphia disappeared only 2:02 later. Mark Murphy, who won Saturday's game in overtime with an "excuse me" finish on a breakaway, fired a 30 foot bullet through the legs of Frank Doyle for the 4-2 final.
Rejean Beauchemin was spot on in his first professional game, making 37 saves in the Phantoms cage, including 29 in the last two periods alone. The rookie was prepared for the barrage, noting, "After the first, I knew they were going to come out firing pretty good. I made sure I was ready for that and I was there for the guys. That's what I'm there for."
Coach Stevens shared in the 20-year old's fine performance saying, "To me, he looked as confident today as he has since he got here in training camp. He's a great kid and he has worked hard, so I was happy to see him get his win."
The Phantoms are on the road for seven straight games, the longest such stretch of the season. The next home game is Friday, Nov. 4th at 7:05 pm. The Hershey Bears will make a visit to the Wachovia Spectrum. The next tilt for the Phantoms is Friday, Oct. 21 in Norfolk.
Stevens was pleased to have the week to work some of the kinks out. "We had a really good first period, but then we got a little bit sloppy. We've got to do a better job of managing the puck through the neutral zone, which I think led to some problems. But, it's early in the season and we've had our team together for less than a week. It actually works out well for us to have a full week until we play again so we can address some things."
SLAPSHOTS: With the win, the Phantoms ran their home unbeaten streak against the River Rats to 10 games (9-0-1), with the last loss coming Dec. 9, 2000---With a goal and two assists, Umberger was the number one star. Voce and Beauchemin were two and three respectively---The Phantoms were 1-7 on the power play. The Rats gave up a shorthanded goal and were 0-8 man up---Beauchemin became the second goaltender in as many nights to make his Phantoms debut, with Jamie Storr being tabbed for Opening Night duties. Beauchemin was also the 17th backstop to appear in team history.