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Published: Monday, 1/3/2005

Bullies shut out undermanned Storm

BY BILL LECONEY
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - The new year began with a whitewash for the Toledo Storm, but not the fresh start the team was looking for.

The Storm, missing several players because of injuries and call-ups, fell quietly to the Boardwalk Bullies 3-0 yesterday afternoon at Boardwalk Hall to end a 1-3-0 road trip.

Toledo coach Nick Vitucci dressed only eight forwards and five defensemen due to the absence of Shawn Collymore, Mark Gianetti, Pierre-Luc Sleigher, Noah Whyte, Scooter Smith, P.J. Martin and Sylvain Dufresne.

"With a short bench and three games in four days, we basically had to adjust our entire system," Vitucci said. "I thought we did very well with it. I thought we certainly created enough opportunities to keep ourselves in the game."

The game was remarkably clean: No penalties were called by referee Patrick Britt until the 8:49 mark of the third period. But even with a full two-minute 5-on-3 advantage midway through the third, the Storm could not push the puck past Bullies goaltender Jake Moreland, who stopped 23 shots to record his fifth career shutout.

Yesterday's result fit with last year's season series between the teams - a clean sweep by Atlantic City in which the Bullies outscored the Storm 21-0 in four games. But Vitucci said the feel of the game was completely different.

"That was just hold-on-for-your-life last year," Vitucci said. "Today, we had 10 or 11 quality scoring chances that we could have capitalized on, and that was because of hard work and effort."

For the second time in three games, the Storm fell behind by two goals in the first period and could not mount a rally.

Goaltender Scott Fankhouser took the loss, stopping 23 of 25 shots.

Fankhouser was ejected from Friday's loss in Johnstown for throwing a piece of equipment at an opposing player. Vitucci said the league office reviewed the tape of the incident and issued only a small fine against the goaltender.

After a win in Wheeling to start the road trip, the Storm (13-12-3) has lost three straight to drop to sixth place in the ECHL North Division.

The Storm returns to the Sports Arena on Wednesday to play host to the Boardwalk Bullies, who have won four straight to maintain first place in the division.

"Hopefully we'll get a little help and have some more numbers in the lineup for that one," Vitucci said.



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