Posts Tagged ‘Matt O’Connor’
With their backs against the wall, the Youngstown Phantoms were fighting for survival and trying to force a game five. Through two periods, they did just that. However, the high octane offense of Green Bay came to life when it needed life fast and eliminated Youngstown from the postseason with a 4-1 win.
Following the game three home loss on Tuesday night, Anthony Noreen vowed that his team would come out fighting for their lives and doing all they could to survive. The first-year coach can be proud of the effort his team put forward against ,arguably, a USHL dynasty, in Green Bay.
It only took 1:35 for the Phantoms to nab a 1-0 lead. Mike Ambrosia emerged from some early chaos in front of Green Bay’s Ryan McKay and whizzed it past the Gambler’s netminder to stake the Phantoms to the early lead. Sam Anas earned an assist on Ambrosia’s goal. Unfortunately, the goal would be their last of the year.
Matt O’Connor was a brick wall of resistance through two periods, recording 32 saves. The 6’5″ Phantoms goaltender sent the message to both his teammates and the Green Bay squad that nothing was going in easily.
With the Phantoms ahead 1-0 when the second period buzzer sounded, a frustrated McKay heaved his water bottle across the ice toward the red line. The Phantoms had only taken 14 shots at McKay through the first two periods, but one of those found the underdog Phantoms ahead of his Gamblers.
With 11:26 left in the game, Nolan LaPorte made a nifty move putting the puck through a Phantoms defenseman’s legs, skating around, and then bursting toward O’Connor and finishing by hitting the inside of the right post for a Gamblers goal.
Typical of Green Bay, the next goal came fast. With 7:37 left in the game, Sam Herr gave Green Bay its first lead of the game. Alex Broadhurst and Jordan Schmaltz were credited with assists on Herr’s tally.
Grant Arnold and Herr knocked in empty-netters to cap the scoring.
The Phantoms accomplished a great deal in Noreen’s first season and this franchise has so much to look forward to with him leading the charge.
The Youngstown Phantoms stole home ice from Green Bay with their 5-3 win Sunday. Green Bay got to Youngstown and stole it back with a 6-3 win over the Phantoms. Green Bay’s equivalent to the NHL’s ‘playoff beard’, was every member of the team dying their hair blond (seriously). The dye paid off, as Green Bay took 32 shots compared to Youngstown’s 20, and Alex Broadhurst scored a trio of shorthanded goals.
“We have been doing the bleach blond hair and dark facial hair for four years and it hasn’t hurt us”, said Broadhurst.
Green Bay started the scoring when Broadhurst intercepted the puck while the Phantoms were on a powerplay. Broadhurst burst into the Phantoms zone on what looked like a penalty shot and snuck the puck past Matt O’Connor just 2:41 into the contest.
The Phantoms tied the game when Todd Koritzinsky connected for his second goal of the playoffs. Koritzinski’s goal came at even-strength with 3:22 left to play in the first. Pat Conte and Chris Bradley (below) picked up assists on the Phantoms goal.
With 25 seconds left in the opening period, Sheldon Dries gave Green Bay a 2-1 lead to take back to the locker room. With 14:42 left in the second period, C. J. Eick increased the Gambler lead to 3-1 when he finished off a 3-on-2 breakaway chance.
The Gamblers offensive onslaught continued as they added another score. Grant Arnold didn’t get all of the slapshot he took between the right faceoff circle and blue line, but O’Connor was screened and the puck bounced and rolled by him. With 8:51 gone in the second, it was suddenly a 4-1 Gamblers lead.
A frustrated Phantoms team racked up ten second period penalty minutes. The one time they had the numbers, Broadhurst again intercepted a puck and gathered his second shorthanded, unassisted goal of the game to make it 5-1. Through two periods, the Phantoms were outshot 27-14.
“Bottom line is that we have no room left to lose”, said Anthony Noreen. “If we do lose, it’s all over and we are not ready for this to end. We will be fighting for our lives tomorrow night.”
In the third period, with 13:39 left in the game, Ryan Belonger broke into the Green Bay Zone and fired a shot from inside the right faceoff circle that trickled through Ryan McKay‘s equipment. Belonger’s goal was unassisted and made it a 5-2 game.
Green Bay is a very good hockey team that can score in waves. But the disturbing thing that showed was how cocky they play. They were chirping in the Phantoms ears every whistle of the game.
The cockiness caught up a bit when Youngstown scored on a powerplay chance. J.T. Stenglein scored with 6:55 left in the game to make it 5-3. Stenglein’s goal was a result of crisp passing and execution on the powerplay. Austin Cangelosi and Mike Ambrosia picked up assists on the goal.
Broadhurst completed his rare shorthanded hat trick at the 13:44 mark of the third period.
“That was my first hat trick in the USHL”, said Broadhurst, a 2011 seventh round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks. “I played hard and felt like I deserved that, they are a good team, so I was happy to get those chances.”
With the win, the Gamblers took a 2-1 series lead and can eliminate the Phantoms with a win Wednesday night at the Covelli Centre.
The Youngstown Phantoms responded to a trouncing in their series-opener with three power play goals to help down the Green Bay Gamblers 5-3 Sunday at the Resch Center. The win evened the best-of-five Eastern Conference Semifinal series at 1-1 heading back to Youngstown for Games 3 and 4.
Soren Jonzzon netted a pair of power-play goals and Dylan Margonari bookended the scoring with first-and-third-period tallies. Austin Cangelosi also put one in on the man-advantage as the Phantoms went a perfect 3-for-3 on the power play. Goaltender Matt O’Connor, who was pulled after the first-period of Game 1, was superb between the pipes, turning away 40 of 43 shots, including 24 in the third period.
“It was definitely a bit of an eye-opener last night,” O’Connor said. “Tonight was a must-win game for the team. We knew that going back home down two games would be a big hole to dig ourselves out of and it was a great way to carry some momentum heading back to the Covelli Centre.”
Margonari scored the game’s first goal, and his first of the postseason, 4:49 into the first period. Ryan Lowney led a 2-on-1 rush and picked out Margonari streaking toward the net. The Greensburg, Pa. native quickly corralled the puck and put it past Gamblers goaltender Ryan McKay to put the Phantoms ahead for the first time in the series.
“Hockey’s kind of a game of karma – when you do things the right way, it seems like you get the bounces,” Noreen said. “Last night, we didn’t do things right and honestly, we didn’t deserve any bounces… Tonight our guys had a better approach [to the game] and when you put that sort of effort in, you seem to get those bounces.”
The Phantoms return to the Mahoning Valley for Games 3 and 4 this Tuesday and Wednesday at the Covelli Centre. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m. EST both nights.
The Youngstown Phantoms closed out their best-of-three series against Cedar Rapids as they posted a 6-2 triumph. Alex Gacek had a pair of second period goals and an empty-netter that vaulted the third-year franchise into the next round of the Clark Cup Playoffs. Quite an accomplishment for a third-year franchise with a first-year coach.
Who the Phantoms play next, Indiana or Green Bay, will be decided by the outcome of the Team USA – Dubuque series. Either way, the next round is a best-of-five series and the Phantoms will be the lower seed. That means they will probably play games one and two of the new series on the road. In all probability, the second round matchup will start on Friday at Green bay.
Todd Koritzinsky gave the Phantoms a lead when he scored the first goal of the game 12:11 into the first period. Pat Conte and Ryan Lowney earned assists on Koritzinsky’s goal. Koritzinsky got the puck past Cedar Rapids goaltender Jake Hildebrand.
The lead was short-lived for the Phantoms. Exactly 3:32 later, the Rough Riders were able to tie the contest. Davey Middleton snuck the puck past Matt O’Connor on an even-strength rush. Stu Wilson and Riley Bourbonnais were credited with assists on the play.
In the second period, Gacek got control of the puck just outside of the left face-off circle and burst toward the net. As Gacek roared forward, Cedar Rapids goaltender Hildebrand unsuccessfully tried to play a puck that whistled past and through. Gacek hit the puck so hard, that it stuck in the back of the net. The goal came at the 4:55 mark and put the Phantoms ahead 2-1. Gacek also earned a two-minute charging penalty as he collided with Hildebrand after the puck squirted through.
Gacek, sporting the Tom Selleck playoff moustache, would factor into the outcome to a larger degree. With 9:21 left in the second, the Miami of Ohio-bound forward notched his second goal of the period, game, and series. Gacek scooped up a puck that hit the side of the net to Hildebrand’s left, and rifled it past to make it a 3-1 game.
Meanwhile, O’Connor (above) and the defense kept the Rough Riders looking for clues. When Cedar Rapids managed to get a good look, #1 was there to pour water on the fire and preserve the lead. Through two periods, the Phantoms had 28 shots, the Rough Riders managed 19.
With 9:42 left in the game, Cedar Rapids cut the deficit to 3-2 capitalizing on a powerplay chance. Gerald Mayhew took a nice feed from behind the net that O’Connor never really had a chance to make a play on. It was one of the few times all night that Cedar Rapids made more than one pass before attempting a shot.
The Phantoms answered 1:28 later when Soren Jonzzon hung around the crease long enough to gather in a nice pass from Ryan Belonger and redirect the puck to the right side of the post. Austin Cangelosi and Gacek added empty-netters to punctuate the win.
O’Connor stopped 32 shots in the win.
The Youngstown Phantoms and Cedar Rapids Rough Riders started their USHL Playoff series with a bang. The Phantoms outshot the Rough Riders, 36-17 through regulation, but when the buzzer sounded, the game was tied at three goals apiece. Austin Cangelosi continued to be a clutch player as he scored the game-winning goal, 6:18 into the extra session to put the Phantoms up 1-0 in the best-of-three series.
Cangelosi commented on his game-winner: “It’s not something I tried a lot in practice, maybe on NHL 2012, but not in live competition. It was a shot in the dark and I did it on instinct. I saw the puck rolling down his [Hildebrand’s] back and into the net, and I was ecstatic”
Playing in the postseason for the first time in their three-year franchise history, the Phantoms looked like seasoned veterans for the most part. Youngstown hit the scoreboard with 9:24 in the books when Mike Ambrosia beat Jake Hildebrand (above). The first-ever Phantoms postseason goal came at even strength and Ambrosia was assisted by Sam Anas and Cangelosi.
About five minutes into the second period, the Phantoms drew a couple of quick penalties to give Cedar Rapids a two-man advantage. Down two men, the Phantoms managed more shots than the team with the advantage, and the special teams looked fine tuned.
Cedar Rapids tied the game 9:42 into the second period. Dylan Gareau took a nice feed from Landon Smith to beat Matt O’Connor. Smith was among a group of players jostling for the puck behind the net. Smith gained control, skated along the boards, halfway to the corner, and found Gareau waiting unattended, ten feet, front and center, from the net.
Ryan McGrath gave the Rough Riders a 2-1 lead with 6:21 to play in the second. McGrath’s even-strength goal was unassisted. The Cedar Rapids forward gathered a loose puck to the left of O’Connor and skated around the front crease line before he flicked the puck past the outstretched body of O’Connor.
Through two periods, the Phantoms held a 24-15 advantage in shots on goal, yet trailed the game 2-1.
With 9:55 left in the game, however, the Phantoms tied things up. Alex Gacek fought for the puck around the Rough Rider blue line and poked it past a defender. Gacek then found J. T. Stenglein cutting toward the goal and hit him in stride with a centering pass. Stenglein went high on Hildebrand’s stick side to find the twine.
What should have been good fortune, then turned into tragedy. With 6:36 left in the game and the Phantoms on a powerplay, Nick Saracino picked off a loose puck at center ice and flew toward O’Connor. As Saracino got between the circles he fired one through the legs of O’Connor that found its way in.
The Phantoms retaliated quickly. With 4:05 left in the game, Jonathan Liau got a pass from Ambrosia that he whistled in to tie the game back up.
With 1:11 left in the game, Jordan Young was whistled for high-sticking to allow Cedar Rapids a chance to finish regulation with a man advantage. The Rough Riders could not seal the deal and regulation expired. The remainder of the penalty, 49 seconds, would factor into the overtime.
It should be noted that overtime in the playoffs is different than the regular season format. Instead of a two-minute intermission that leads into a five-minute overtime period, there is a 20-minute session following a 15-minute break.
In the overtime, the Phantoms got a powerplay chance of their own and took six quality shots, none of which got past Hildebrand.
Cangelosi than played hero as he carried the puck over center ice with a teammate and a defender on each side. Cangelosi then flipped the puck over a defenseman’s head, raced around him, and fired it in from close range for the winner.
“Austin showed again tonight just how special he is”, said Anthony Noreen. “What he just did to win that game provided the biggest goal in the history of this franchise, and he really deserved it.”
“It’s a great win for us”, said a jubilant Noreen. “We want to play every game as though it is a must-win. It will be nice to end the series tomorrow night, not only because we can pick up the extra day of rest, but also because we just want to win this now.”
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.”
The Youngstown Phantoms wrap up the regular season this weekend with back-to-back games against the Anderson Cup winners. The Phantoms (31-20-7, fourth East) face off with the United States Hockey League’s top team, the Green Bay Gamblers, this Friday and Saturday at the Covelli Centre in their final tune-up before the start of the Clark Cup Playoffs next Monday.
These games should prove interesting in the sense that Phantoms Coach Anthony Noreen has to make the decision of getting his healing troops back in sync, or resting guys to make a push in the playoffs which start Monday. He may try to do a little of both by reassembling the lines and limiting the time of the top skaters.
One luxury Noreen does not have to worry about for the Green Bay series is whether or not to play Matt O’Connor. The goaltending situation is a great problem to have when, on your roster, you have not one, but two, goaltenders who have been awarded the highest individual honor at their position at some point this season. Sean Romeo is the current honoree.
The Phantoms are locked into the No. 4 seed in the USHL Eastern Conference and cannot do anything to affect their playoff standings, but Coach Noreen said that won’t change his approach to the weekend. On the contrary, he said, the final games will be an opportunity to improve his team’s postseason preparation.
“The type of team we’re seeing this weekend (Green Bay) is the type of team we’re going to see in the playoffs – every round,” Noreen said. “We can use [this series] as a teaching tool – as experience.”
The first-year head coach said that the weekend series will also provide a chance for a number of players to get reintegrated into the lineup. Forwards Sam Anas (illness) and Jonathan Liau (illness) as well as defenseman Kevin Liss (lower-body injury) could all return to the ice against the Gamblers (46-9-3, first East) – a welcome boost for the Phantoms with the playoffs around the corner.
“Our big focus this weekend is going to be making sure we do things the right way and executing the way we want with the X’s and O’s,” he said. “We want to make sure that everybody stays sharp and we want to make sure when we’re on the ice, we’re not just going through the motions. That way, it’s not a switch we have to turn on when it comes playoff time.”
It’s Fan Appreciation Weekend at the Covelli Centre and the Phantoms will be holding a game-worn jersey auction while the Eagle Wear Team Shop will be offering a 25 percent discount on all merchandise as well as buy one, get one free deals Phantoms T-shirts.
After helping his team secure home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs over the weekend, Youngstown Phantoms goaltender Sean Romeo captured some accolades of his own on Monday. The Cary, N.C., native was named USHL’s Reebok Goaltender of the Week the league announced Monday evening.
This is the first time that Romeo, 17, has earned the league’s weekly honor and he is the ninth different Phantoms player to do so this season. Playing time has been tough to come by because Matt O’Connor has played solidly between the pipes all season.
“He really deserves this,” Head Coach Anthony Noreen said. “Nobody works harder in practice than Sean. If he was sitting behind anyone else in the league he’d probably be seeing a lot more time but everyone got a glimpse of what we know he’s capable of this weekend.”
Romeo, making his 12th start of the season, turned away 38 of 39 shots (.974 save percentage) on Saturday to backstop the Phantoms (31-20-7, fourth East) to a 2-1 overtime victory over the Indiana Ice. The second-year netminder held the Ice, the USHL’s second highest scoring team averaging 3.66 goals for a game, to just a single goal in 60-plus minutes between the pipes.
“It felt good to clinch home-ice for the team and getting the win in overtime made it that much better,” Romeo said after the game. “My defense played really hard for me and they deserve a lot of the credit.”
The Phantoms wrap up the regular season this weekend when they take on the Green Bay Gamblers in a pair of games this Friday and Saturday at the Covelli Centre. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m. EST both nights.
It’s Fan Appreciation Weekend at the Covelli Centre and the Phantoms will be holding a game-worn jersey auction while the Eagle Wear Team Shop will be offering a 25 percent discount on all merchandise as well as buy one, get one free deals Phantoms T-shirts.
The Youngstown Phantoms, in front of one of the biggest crowds of the year, fell prey to the Indiana Ice, 5-2. The start of the game was pushed back almost an hour because the bus carrying the Indiana team broke down somewhere en route to the Covelli Centre. The way this game went, the Phantoms would have hoped that the spare would have been flat too.
In the first period, no one could get the puck into the net. Solid goaltending by Matt O’Connor for the Phantoms and Jon Gillies for the Ice saw a couple of zeroes at the end of the first twenty minutes. The two netminders combined to stop 26 shots.
Indiana broke the “Ice” on the scoreless game when Danill Tarasov recorded his 38th goal of the season beating O’Connor glove side. Tarasov’s goal was unassisted and came with 17:39 to go in the second period.
The Phantoms were able to tie the game at a goal apiece briefly. Austin Cangelosi (above) recorded his 26th goal of the season with 15:59 remaining in the second. Cangelosi gathered a Mike Ambrosia shot that bounced off of Gillies and stuffed it back into the net. Ambrosia was given an assist on Cangelosi’s even-strength goal.
The Ice (32-14-7) would then explode for a couple of quick goals to take a 3-1 lead. Ryan Obuchowski scored the first with 14:58 to play in the second period. A few minutes later, Tarasov connected again, sneaking the puck past O’Connor with both teams playing a man down. The Ice took a commanding three goal lead with 2:30 remaining in the second period when Emil Romig connected in a high-traffic situation in front of a crowded goal crease.
In the third period, the Ice tacked on another goal to make it 5-1 when Robert Polesello took a pass from behind the net and drilled it past O’Connor. Obuchowski and Nieves were credited assists on the goal.
The Phantoms (30-17-7) had a few chances to tighten the game in the third period, but failed to make it happen until Eric Sweetman connected with 4:29 left to play to make it 5-2. Sweetman went high on the glove side for his fourth goal of the season.
The Ice took 55 shots compared to the Phantoms 37.
Trailing 5-4 with under three minutes left in regulation, Ryan Belonger gave the Phantoms a chance to win with a game-tying goal. Ian McCoshen snuck a long one past Matt O’Connor in overtime to erase the heroics of Belonger and send the Youngstown Phantoms to their second straight overtime loss, 6-5, in a wild one.
Waterloo scored first as Vince Hinostroza scored just 2:54 into the contest. By the end of the first period, however, it wa the Phantoms who took a 2-1 lead into the intermission. Goals by Dylan Margonari, who was assisted by J. T. Stenglein, and Chris Bradley‘s unassisted gem temporarily vaulted the Phantoms into the lead.
A wild second period saw five total goals scored, unfortunately for the purple Youngstown skaters, three of them were by Waterloo. Austin Cangelosi pulled out a shorthanded goal, unassisted, 6:12 into the second to increase Youngstown’s lead to 3-1. After Tony Cameranesi cut the lead to 3-2 with a Waterloo goal, Mike Ambrosia scored to give the Phantoms back the two-goal lead with three-and-a-half minutes to play in the period.
Goals for Waterloo from Scott MacDonald and a Taylor Cammarata powerplay goal with just three seconds remaining in the period tied the game at four goals apiece.
In the final period, Waterloo jumped out to a 5-4 lead when Mark Naclerio scored with 6:57 elapsed in the final stanza. Neither team would muster much offense until the final horn was ready to sound. Belonger then took an unassisted chance and put the puck into the net, beating Stephon Williams with 2:35 left in the game.
In the overtime, McCoshen scored with 3:36 gone in the extra session to lift Waterloo to the victory.
Matt O’Connor faced 41 shots and stopped 35 of them in a gallant effort between the pipes.
With the loss, the Phantoms fell to 51-29-15 and trail Indiana by one point for second place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Dubuque is only one point behind the Phantoms and this race for second, third, and fourth places looks to be heading down to the wire.
The Phantoms will now travel to Chicago to face an Ice team that has been pretty well removed from the playoffs and has nothing to lose. On the other hand, Youngstown needs the points and will have to put their best skate forward.