The Youngstown Phantoms closed out their regular season with a bang on Saturday night. The Green Bay Gamblers, defending Clark Cup champions from last season, were playing their final game before getting almost a full week off to prepare for their playoff start. The Phantoms were trying to gain momentum heading into their Monday playoff series with Cedar Rapids.
It took a shootout to determine a winner and when the smoke cleared, Sam Anas and Soren Jonzzon lifted the home team to a thrilling 2-1 shootout victory that gave the Phantoms a 4-3 win against the best in the game.
“My goal was inspired by the New Jersey Devils Patrick Kane”, said Anas. ”I saw him do that and I worked on it and gave it a try tonight and it worked.”
“I saw Sam’s goal and noticed that Rotolo was beatable through the five-hole”, said Jonzzen. ”I faked, pulled the puck back and beat him there [five-hole] for the goal.
In the first period, the Phantoms put the puck in the cage to take an early 1-0 lead. Alexander Dahl nabbed his third goal of the season just 4:39 into the game. Ryan Belonger and Jonzzon were credited with assists on Dahl’s goal.
Mike Ambrosia increased the Phantoms lead to 2-0 at the 12:06 mark of the first. Ambrosia beat Michael Rotolo for his 18th score of the year. Chris Bradley and Anas earned assists on the powerplay strike.
Before the first period ended, Green Bay got on the scoreboard. Grant Arnold trickled a shot off of the glove of Sean Romeo that fluttered into the net.
In the second period, Green Bay tied the contest at two goals apiece when Arnold collected his second goal of the night and seventh of the season. Arnold’s goal came 3:52 into the second period.
Green Bay entered the contest with a 47-9-3 record and would have about six days rest securing a first round USHL playoff bye. By no means were they playing a softer brand of hockey. Conversely, the Phantoms had a few notable scratches as Kevin Liss, Richard Zehnal, and Dylan Morganari watched the game in the stands.
The intensity kicked up a notch with just over a minute left in the second period. Phantoms forward Todd Korizinsky caught a high stick to the face and staggered toward the Phantom bench. However, Zach Evancho, a Phantom, was whistled for a too many men on the ice infraction which sent Anthony Noreen into a frenzy.
“I was concerned about Korizinsky’s safety because he was holding his face and wanted to make sure he could get to the bench”, said Noreen. ”I wasn’t upset with the call that the refs made.”
The Phantoms took a 3-2 lead when Daniel Renouf fired the puck on net and Jonzzon redirected it past Rotolo. The goal was scored at the 1:31 mark of the third period.
Noreen opted to let Matt O’Connor play the third period. Romeo’s full two periods were pretty good, as he faced 22 shots and stopped 20 of them.
With 4:49 left in the game and the Phantoms just killing off a penalty, Arnold beat O’Connor for his third goal of the game. The Gambler forward nearly doubled his entire output for the 2011-12 season as he entered the game with just five goals.
Commenting on the hat trick by Arnold, Noreen showed a lot of class. ”He [Arnold] is a captain and always plays hard. He deserved to have that type of game.”
With nobody scoring in the overtime session, the teams went to a shootout. Green Bay got a goal from Alex Kile. The Phantoms got shootout goals from Anas and Jonzzon to gain the win.
“I challenged our guys to use this game to build momentum going into the playoffs”, remarked Noreen. ”It is a nice win against a very talented team.”