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A Night of Firsts As Flyers Sink Habs 4-1

Friday, January 17, 2003

By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer

Jim Vandermeer and Joe Sacco scored their first goals as Philadelphia Flyers and Chris Therien score his first goal of the season in a 3-1 win in front of 19,290 fans at the First Union Center. Both teams suffered defeats at the hands of the NHL’s worst team, the Atlanta Thrashers in their last outing. Maybe both teams were looking forward to tonight’s game as the Flyers fell 7-4 here Monday night and the Canadiens were shutout 1-0 in Atlanta last night.

When you have a game like we did against Atlanta, where we really fumbled, sometimes the hockey gods make you pay, said Flyer Head Coach, Ken Hitchcock. We got better and better as we went on…in the second half Montreal showed the wear and tear of back-to-back game.

The Flyers were looking to rebound from their lackluster performance earlier in the week and catching the Canadiens playing back-to-back games seemed perfect. Proving the shots on goal is not an accurate benchmark; the Canadiens out-hustled and outscored the Flyers while getting only six shots on goalie Roman Cechmanek.

On only their fourth shot of the period, Richard Zednik scored his 20th goal of the season at 10:29 to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. The play started behind the Flyers’ net with defenseman Chris Therien attempting to stick-check Saku Koivu, who neatly threaded pass to a streaking Zednik who was a step ahead of newcomer, Joe Sacco.

Sacco’s a pro…he does little things that at the end of the night add up…little plays on the wall, said Hitchcock. When the game is on the line, he doesn’t get caught chasing it.

The Canadiens almost made it 2-0 a few minutes later when a Craig Rivet slap shot from the high slot clanged off the near-side post.

Jim Vandermeer’s first NHL goal beat Jeff Hackett low to the glove side at 14:12 of the second period, knotting the score at 1-1. The Flyers’ Jeremy Roenick won the draw in the Flyers’ offensive zone, sending the puck back to Vandermeer sliding through the slot with Chad Kilger in tow.

Vandermeer’s shot at the top of the right circle easily beat Hackett who had traffic in front of the Montreal net. Jimmy Vandermeer is a real good, young, hockey player. He’s smart and he’s got composure, said Hitchcock. He’s learning about this league and he was captain for three years which is a long time in juniors to be a captain so he has obvious leadership skills.

At the last minute, I took a look up and saw (Hackett)…he was quite a way out of the net and there was quite a bit of room there, said Vandermeer. When I first got the puck, the shot wasn’t there so I just walked to the middle and waited until there was a lane there and threw it on net.

Joe Sacco made it 2-1 at 3:04 of the third period on a shot by Michal Handzus which died in the crease behind Hackett. Sacco tapped it home for his first NHL goal since the 2000-01 season.

I’m very fortunate to be here and I want to make the most of it, said Sacco. I just want to do whatever I can to fill a role here.

Late goals by Handzus (15:51) and Therien (19:47) finished the night’s scoring.

Fans can visit the Flyers web site for schedule and ticket information at:


1st Period

Montreal: McKay 2:30 (high-sticking).
Philadelphia: Brashear 10:34 (interference); Williams 18:51 (slashing).

2nd Period

Montreal: Zednik 15:40 (holding the stick).
Philadelphia: none.

3rd Period

Montreal: none
Philadelphia: Brashear 4:03 (boarding)

Shots On Goal:

Montreal: 6-4-7
Philadelphia: 14-15-12


1. Jim Vandermeer
2. Joe Sacco
3. Jeff Hackett

Chosen By: Brian Propp, 610 WIP Sports Radio


Jeremy Roenick was selected to play in the NHL All-Star game.

Defenseman Jim Vandermeer was recalled from the Philadelphia Phantoms and Andre Savage was returned to the Philadelphia Phantoms after scoring two goals and one assist in fifteen games.

Joe Sacco was signed to a one-year contract after signing a ten-game PTO contract with the Philadelphia Phantoms. In six games with the Phantoms, Sacco had four goals and three assists. In 704 NHL games, Sacco has 207 points (93G, 114A).

Right Wing Tomi Kallio was placed on waivers; Kallio scored one goal in seven games with the Flyers.

Photos by Pedro Cancel

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