Haunting hockey

The Adirondack Phantoms are the losing-est team in the entire 30-team American Hockey League. The Glens Fall-based skaters have lost 29 games so far this season while winning just 15.

So why can't the Syracuse Crunch beat these losers?

The Phantoms, the top farm team of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, have beaten the Crunch all five times the two clubs have met this year. And the last time was a heartbreaker.

Adirondack took a quick 2-0 lead in the first period Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Onondaga County War Memorial, but the Crunch battled back boldly to tie the game at 4-4 in the second, only to lose by a final score of 6-4.

"This is definitely a team we've struggled against this year," said Crunch winger David Laliberte, who played for Adirondack at the beginning of the season.

During the game's first intermission, Crunch Coach Mark Holick gave his players a piece of his mind, and he wasn't thinking happy thoughts. Holick hollered loudly and profanely, and even threw a few things around the locker room, Lalliberte said. "So we came out fired up in the second."

Hard-fought goals were scored by Crunch forward Nicolas Deschamps, MacGregor Sharp and Dan Sexton in the second period, on top of a spectacular first-period slap shot by Nick Bonino which actually sent the puck through the twine of the Adirondack goal.

In the third frame, Phantoms left winger Michael Ryan scored his thirteenth goal of the campaign to lift his team to victory before hammering a nail in the Crunch coffin with an empty-netter with ten seconds left to play. Since he'd also scored in the second, Ryan finished the night with a hat trick.

The bad blood between these two East Division cellar-dwelling teams was evident throughout the game as more than ten penalties were levied including two for fighting and one for unsportsmanlike conduct (Patrick Maroon of the Crunch).

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