The Youngstown Phantoms kicked off their 2012-13 season Friday night against the Omaha Lancers. Coming off of their first playoff appearance in franchise history, the Phantoms looked flat to start the game. However, by the time the third period ended, they seemed unstoppable in posting a dramatic 5-3 come-from-behind win. Daniel Renouf scored the game-winning goal with 2:21 left to boost the Phantoms into the win column.
“The puck just came loose and I just found a way to put it in”, said Renouf. “I kind of really fanned on it, I just got lucky. Being tied for the lead in goals for the team will probably be the first time I will have bragging rights over those guys”
The outpouring of goals by defensemen in this game (three) is almost half of last years season total.
“The number one emphasis we made in the offseason was to get our defensemen involved more offensively”, said Phantoms Coach Anthony Noreen. “Last year, we may have had better defensive guys, but this year, our defensemen have have been scoring goals in the preseason and tonight.”
Omaha took an early 1-0 lead when Drew Melanson beat Phantoms goaltender Sean Romeo from close range. The goal came 6:02 into the first period and Jake Randolph was credited with an assist.
In the second period, the Phantoms would tie the game. With 10:57 left in the stanza, Luke Stork sucked the defense into the goal crease and flipped the puck back to Alfred Larsson who hit the twine for his first goal. Lancer goalee Alex Lyon was too far out of the way to make the stop as a result of Stork’s charge.
The Lancers would reclaim the lead later in the second frame. With 5:18 left in the period, Tyler Hynes charged in with the puck from the left wing toward the crease. Romeo could not see Hynes clearly because a defenseman was skating backwards, obstructing his line of sight. When Hynes released the shot, it was too late for Romeo to react as he was beaten on the stick side. Connor Chatham earned an assist on the goal that would give Omaha a 2-1 lead.
Through two periods, the Phantoms seemed to be getting stronger. The big difference between the first and second periods seemed to be speed and spacing. Too many times in the first period when the Phantoms had the puck in the Lancers zone, they seemed to be clustered up and in each others way. After two periods, the Phantoms held a 26-21 advantage for shots on goal, but the Lancers held a 2-1 lead on the ones that went in.
“We had 20 shots in the second period”, noted Noreen. “It was more our style. We thrive off of our physical play. We were standing around a lot in the first period and with any home opener, you get nervous. Even our older guys are young this year.”
In the third period, the Phantoms wasted little time scoring a game-tying goal. Austin Cangelosi, who was recently named a team co-captain, scored his first goal of the season. The goal came just 17 seconds into the final period. Cangelosi had a strong inaugural campaign for the Phantoms last season as he finished with 59 points (29 goals and 30 assists). Todd Koritzinsky set Cangelosi up with a nice pass on Lyons glove side before Cangelosi unloaded.
“In the first half of the game, we came out flat”, expressed Cangelosi. “Our energy was low. We had energy in the second half of the game. On the goal I scored, Todd [Kortizinsky] made a nice backhanded pass. I think it went between two defenders legs and I was just sitting in front with nobody on me and I just whacked it home.”
With 7:45 left in the game, Phantoms defenseman Eric Sweetman made a pretty move to give the Phantoms the lead. Sweetman had the puck on the right side at the blue line. He proceeded to skate around a Lancer defender and beelined toward Lyons. He unloaded a nice shot that got by Lyons and gave the Phantoms their first lead of the season. Renouf and Cangelosi got assists on the goal.
Omaha swung back with 6:21 left to tie the game at three goals apiece. Alex Rauter snuck one by Romeo to deflate the momentum of the Youngstown Phantoms.
With time running out, the Phantoms took the lead, 4-3, for good with 2:21 left in the game. Renouf hit the post on the side that would let it deflect into the net. Renouf took a pass from Cangelosi to beat Lyons from 15 feet. Sam Anas also picked up an assist on the play.
The Phantoms would add an empty net goal. Cangelosi took a lead pass toward an empty net and unselfishly fed Phantom teammate Ryan Lowney to close the scoring out.