No Doubt - September 16, 2003
Panthers toast PLT 7-0 for D League crown in inaugural HLI season
Employing the closest thing to a ball control offense in hockey, the Panthers controlled chunks of this championship tilt as they methodically broke down PLT 7-0 to win the D League championship. Seven different Panthers scored as they repeatedly spaced the ice to maintain puck control inside PLT's defensive zone. They systematically probed PLT's defense, weaving in and out to create scoring opportunities and, eventually, goals. PLT netminder Vin Winsky withstood the Panther attack for the first 18 minutes, but ultimately he succumbed to the incessant pressure in a four goal second period that broke open the match. Four Panthers each tallied a goal and assist - John Dimules, Nick DiVittorio, Don Sandeen, and Lee Terzakis - as 12 Panthers in all participated in the scoring.
Finally - September 12, 2003
Phantoms-Red whitewash Napper Tandys 2-0 to snare first-ever HLI championship
Burying five years and 13 seasons of on-ice futility, the Phantoms-Red finally entered Titletown as they edged a game Napper Tandys squad 2-0 to garner the Summer 03 E League championship. In a close, tense match the Phantoms scored twice within 90 seconds and held off a Napper Tandys' third period surge to secure their title. The championship winning tally came with just 27 seconds left in the first as Matt Daley fended off two defenders to net a shorthanded goal. Marc Ranieri then followed up just one minute into the second with a putback off a goalmouth scramble in front of Napper goalie Ed Derudder. Derudder once again was stellar under the playoff spotlight as he denied prime Phantom chances throughout. His counterpart, Phantom goalie Rich Yasso, while not facing the sustained pressure endured by Derudder, nonetheless made the clutch saves down the stretch when Napper put forth their best offensive push.
Catch us if you Can - September 11, 2003
Phantoms-Black zoom past Bladerunners 8-1 en route to C League championship
In a match billed as clash of playing styles, speed prevailed as the Phantoms-Black broke open a close game early in the third and exhausted the Bladerunners 8-1 to reclaim an HLI championship after a 6 season absence. The game's pivotal moment came less than a minute into the final stanza. The Phantoms started the third holding a slim 3-1 lead when the Bladerunners managed an odd man rush. Off the rush, they worked an unchecked, point-blank slot shot that Phantoms goalie Rob Marotta stoned. Off the subsequent goalmouth scramble the Phantoms quickly turned the play and launched Jason Lagnese on a decisive breakaway. Lagnese deked left, potted right and the flood gates were opened. The Phantoms proceeded to score four more unanswered as they besieged the Bladerunner end. Lagnese's climatic goal was his second of the night and he added two assists to lead the Phantoms' offensive fireworks, while Marotta made several critical saves early to stem the Bladerunner attack.
Why We Play the Games - August 26, 2003
Klash stun 5th Squad 7-6 in OT to snipe B League championship
Kiran Mhatre's onetime laser, just under the crossbar, 55 seconds into overtime clinched an elusive B League championship for the Klash in a 7-6 shocker over a dazed 5th Squad. Mhatre's gamewinner came courtesy of a feathered Mark Stewart centering pass from behind the net that resulted from a Klash oddman rush. Mhatre's goal, besides completing a natural hat trick, capped a virtuoso performance by Klash netminder Ruben Santana. Santana singlehandedly repelled a furious 5th Squad rally that saw the 'Squad come back from an early 4-0 first period deficit to tie. After rallying in the second, the 'Squad dominated large portions of the third period but could not ultimately conquer Santana and the bend-but-don't-break Klash defense. The Klash, who never trailed in the game, retook a one goal lead with 5:17 remaining on a Mhatre shorthanded goal, the Klash's third shorty of the game. John Giardino retied the game with a deceptive shortside along-the-ice tweener with just 2:47 left and the 'Squad seemed poised to repeat their summer B League crown. The 'Squad continued to pepper Santana but he remained steadfast with several key downlow stops in the waning minutes. With the win, the Klash burn the bridesmaid dress worn for five consecutive HLI championships, the last two coming this past Fall and Spring seasons. Mike Keane led the 5th Squad with 3 goals.