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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms End Trip with Setback
Springfield Takes 3-2 Win

Sunday, October 30, 2005

By Brian Smith
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

SPRINGFIELD, MA - Most folks enjoy a visit to New England this time of year, what with the fall foliage and the crisp autumn air. The Philadelphia Phantoms, however, will be glad to see Massachusetts and the rest of the Northeast conglomerate in their rear-view mirror, as they dropped their fourth straight with a 3-2 loss on Sunday to the Springfield Falcons.

Having played 30 games last season in Springfield, Phantoms backstop Jamie Storr was in a familiar spot. It wasn't the welcome he was anticipating though, as two of his old mates made him pay with a pair before six minutes had expired on the first period clock. Jason Jaspers staked the Birds to the early lead on the power play at 3:43. Ryan Craig then made good at 5:54.

John Slaney would tally for the Phantoms before the period came to a close, scoring on the man advantage at 15:02. The captain was slid a perfect pass from Randy Jones and tagged a 35-footer from the right wing faceoff circle. With the traffic in front and the velocity of the shot, Falcons goaltender Gerald Coleman had no chance. For Slaney, it was his second of the season.

After both clubs were held off the board in the middle period, rookie Alexandre Picard leveled the score at 8:39 of the third. The smooth-skating defenseman took the puck deep into the left wing corner and put on the blinker when he hit the end line, dashing directly at Coleman. Just as it appeared Picard had run out of real estate, he flipped a nifty backhander into a keyhole over the goaltender's short-side shoulder. It was the first for him as a professional and stood up until the Falcons went on their 12th and final power play of the game.

With the puck being worked at the top of the Phantoms zone, Ryan Vesce's left wing faceoff circle shot beat Storr to the post and was claimed as the game-winner.

"We knew this trip was going to be difficult, especially with four games in five nights" lamented Head Coach John Stevens. "I thought it was good that we battled back to 2-2, but the bottom line is you can't play half the hockey game shorthanded and that's what cost us."

The Falcons finished 2-12 with the extra skater, while the Phantoms were 1-9, scoring on their first man advantage. Overall on the season, Philly is 5-60 on the power play and has allowed nine power play goals on 77 chances.

Commenting further on the penalty kills, Stevens factored in the schedule saying, "Clearly we're not doing our part and fatigue plays a part in that. Guys get tired and they end up beside somebody so they start reaching instead of moving their feet."

Prior to the game, it was announced that the Flyers had recalled the Phantoms leading scorer, R.J. Umberger. The 23-year-old had collected three goals and seven assists for 10 points and eight penalty minutes in eight games for the Phantoms this season. He leads the team in assists, points and plus/minus (+4). Umberger posted seven points (1G,6A) in six preseason games with the Flyers.

The 4-5 Phantoms can now look forward to some home cooking. They host Hershey Friday, Nov. 4 at the Wachovia Spectrum. The Phantoms will raise their Calder Cup and Eastern Conference championship banners to the rafters prior to the 7:05 PM start.

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