Phantoms get feisty

PATRICK WILLIAMS -- For SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- It took Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins irritant Daniel Carcillo to rile up the Philadelphia Phantoms and prove to naysayers that the traditionally feisty boys from the City of Brotherly Shove still have some of their old mettle.

The Phantoms left Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Tuesday night with a 3-1 win over a team that had embarrassed them in the same building 10 nights earlier by a 7-1 count, some of that vim and vigour having been displayed this time. The old swagger that some observers wondered whether may have disappeared returned in full force against their Pennsylvania rivals.

Traditionally an AHL power, the Phantoms have hit the rocks this season. Head coach Kjell Samuelsson's club lugged a 3-7-0-0 mark over the 10 games heading into their meeting with the Penguins, had pocketed just three road wins all season and badly needed a life boat to grab hold of if they can hope to resuscitate a season that is in danger of slipping away for good.

But a Carcillo hit on Philadelphia captain John Slaney further kickstarted what had already been a very solid effort from Philadelphia.

With the game tied at 1-1 midway through the third period, Carcillo crunched Slaney with a late hit along the sideboards during a Wilkes- Barre/Scranton power play.

The Penguins' Kyle Brodziak had just erased Philadelphia's 1-0 lead with a goal moments earlier, and a Nate Guenin minor had the Phantoms holding on for dear life as the Penguins threatened to wrestle away the game.

Slaney, a well-respected pro of 15 seasons and the AHL's all-time leading scorer among defencemen, had just returned from a two-month absence due to a leg injury and went down heavily after the hit. Seemingly a target of the Penguins all night long, Slaney had earlier taken a punishing hit from the Penguins' Dennis Bonvie.

Mild-mannered 5-foot-10 Philadelphia defenceman Don Morrison, a rookie with just 18 penalty minutes to his name prior to Tuesday night, bee-lined for Carcillo and left his gloves behind.

But Carcillo recoiled and refused Morrison's invitation to dance. The move paid off for Carcillo, as referee Dean Morton tagged Morrison with a minor penalty that sent the Penguins on a 5-on-3 power play for 1:49.

Hockey, however, is a game of momentum swings, and Wilkes- Barre/Scranton, owners of the AHL's top power play, failed to beat rookie goaltender Scott Munroe, as the Phantoms killed off the Guenin and Morrison minors.

Then just twenty-six seconds after Morrison's minor expired, Niko Dimitrakos tallied to give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead that never was relinquished.

The timing of Morrison's penalty was anything good, but there are worse penalties to kill off than a penalty of the nature of Morrison's, a penalty borne out of emotion and the defence of a teammate.

Slaney, by no means a big defenceman, shrugged off Carcillo's hit.

"That's what I like," Slaney said of the rough stuff. "If guys are going to come after me, that's what I enjoy. It gets me into the game more. It's something I enjoy."

Slaney did not think much of Carcillo's behaviour, however.

"That's just typical Carcillo there," Slaney said of the Penguins' second-year winger.

"He goes running around saying stuff. He's doing his job, but at the same time if you're going do it early in the game, you'd better be able to do it late it in the game."

"It's something that I guess is pretty easy to say is chicken (bleep) what he is doing out there."

Now Slaney, of course, is fair game, as veteran status almost never accords any respect from opponents in the AHL. There are no Gretzky or Lemieux privileges in the AHL.

But seeing their captain banged around did not sit well with the Phantoms. Along with Morrison, the Phantoms' Martin Grenier earlier had taken on on Bonvie after Bonvie's hit on Slaney.

"We stuck up for each other the whole game," defenceman Nolan Baumgartner said. "On the bench it just uplifts guys, and you know that they have your back when you're out there."


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