Published: Monday, February 5, 2007
Phantoms keep rolling in 7-2 win
Mahoning Valley got its sixth straight win against Traverse City Saturday.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. Janis Purins and Alden Hirschfeld each scored twice and Jon Morrow made 19 saves in his Mahoning Valley Phantoms debut in goal to defeat the Traverse City North Stars 7-2 on Saturday at Centre I.C.E. Arena.
With their sixth consecutive win, the Phantoms improved to 34-10-1 and become the first team in the North American Hockey League to clinch a playoff spot. The 34 regular season wins also tie a franchise record set last season, with 17 games remaining this season.
"This is just one of many goals that we set for ourselves before our season began," Phantoms Coach Bob Mainhardt. "There's still a lot of hockey yet to be played and there's a lot more for us to accomplish."
Five-goal third period
The Phantoms used a five-goal third period to pull away, including three on the power play.
Purins opened the scoring at the 3:52 mark of the first period. Johnny Meo skated past two North Stars behind the net before finding Purins with a short pass. At the top of the crease, Purins beat goaltender Kyle Jendra for a 1- 0 lead.
Traverse City tied the game late in the period. Aaron Pietila navigated around three Phantoms into the left circle before roofing a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Morrow. Pietila's ninth goal of the season tied the game at 1-1.
The Phantoms controlled most of the second period, thanks in large part to five power play opportunities. Following their lone penalty killing situation of the period, they took the lead.
Eric Ringel skated down the right wing before firing a slap shot from the top of the right circle. Jendra made the save with his blocker, but lost sight of the puck as it popped above in front of him.
When the puck landed in front of him at the top of the crease, Hirschfeld out-skated a North Star to the net. He poked the rebound over Jendra's right shoulder. The Phantoms regained the lead at 2-1 with 6:43 left in the period.
After successfully killing a penalty to start the third period, the Phantoms took charge.
Dustin Cloutier scored his 28th goal of the season at 1:36. Exactly three minutes later, Nathan Longpre converted on the power play for his 19th tally to make it 4-1.
Purins scored his second of the night and 12th of the season off another feed from Meo at 12:46. Hirschfeld added his second as well, just 35 seconds later, for a 6-1 advantage.
Sebastion Kimmel scored for the North Stars with 2:04 remaining. But Mike Fillinger, returning to the lineup after missing 10 games due to injury, scored his 14th goal of the season with 5.7 seconds to go to close out the scoring.
"These young men share a common purpose and they take it upon themselves to make sure they remained focus on that purpose," Mainhardt said.
The Phantoms out-shot Traverse City 36-21. On the power play, the Phantoms finished 3 for 12 while the North Stars were 1 for 7.
The Phantoms travel to Alpena, Mich. to face the Ice Diggers on Friday and Saturday at Northern Lights Arena. Face-off both nights is at 7 p.m. and will be webcast on www.mvpphantoms.com.