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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Picard Pair Procures Points
Rookies Nets Two in Phantoms Overtime Win

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

By Mike Thornton
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

PHILADELPHIA - The Phantoms are coming off a weekend where they went beyond regulation twice and lost both efforts in a shootout. On Wednesday night against Binghamton, they didn't let it get that far, as Alexandre Picard finished off the Senators with his second of the night, 3-2 in overtime.

The Senators notched both of their goals on the power play, with the first propelling the visitors to an early lead. Steve Martins seized a rebound opportunity to the left of Phantoms backstop Martin Houle at 6:22 of the first. It stayed that way until 8:06 of the second, as Josh Gratton tied his career high-water mark in goals with his ninth of the campaign. Gratton rushed from the Phantoms blueline and into the Sens zone before unleashing a slapper from the right wing circle.

Brandon Bochenski's 15th of the season gave the Senators their one goal advantage back four minutes before the period expired. Charlie Stephens and Jeff Heerema collected the assists, with Heerema running his point streak to six games with the helper.

The Phantoms made two power play goals pay dividends, and both came off the stick of rookie Alexandre Picard. The 20 year-old francophone fired in his fourth of the season from the right wing circle 32 ticks into the third. That goal stood through the next 19:28 and forced overtime.

In the extra, Lance Ward drew his league-leading 64th minor penalty of the season and the Phantoms made him pay. Rookie Stefan Ruzicka, after being denied at the left pipe by Billy Thompson, scavenged for the puck behind the net and tucked it to Picard. He in turn lit the lamp at 3:15 for the win.

"It was a good play by two kids at the end," remarked Phantoms Head Coach John Stevens. "It's better than waiting to the end and putting it in the hands of a shootout. It was nice to see us get it done in overtime on the power play."

Another youngster, the 21 year-old Houle, logged the win behind the strength of 27 saves.

The Phantoms are now 21-27-1-7, with six of those wins coming in overtime and two in the shootout. They will try and continue their winning ways on Friday, as the Purple host the Grand Rapids Griffins at 7:05 PM.

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