YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Ryan Lowney's birthday was Friday night, but the Youngstown Phantoms defenseman celebrated it Saturday. The Redford, Mich. native scored a pair of goals and added an assist as the Phantoms rebounded from a Friday night drubbing to cut down the Muskegon Lumberjacks 4-1.
Austin Cangelosi chipped in with three assists while Kyle Connor and Dan Renouf also scored for Youngstown (14-16-0, 28 points). In net, Sean Romeo was an economical turning away 17 of 18 shots thrown his way to pick up his 12th win of the season, salvaging a weekend split with the rival Lumberjacks (19-11-3, 41 points).
"We brought a lot of energy tonight," Lowney said. "Every guy was up on the bench yelling. We we're pumped and ready and it gave us the momentum before the game even started."
Lowney opened the scoring off an odd-man rush midway through the first period. Cangelosi dropped a pass for the Ferris State recruit in the high slot, and he waited for Muskegon netminder Kevin Lindskoug to drop down before firing a wrist shot that pinged off the crossbar and straight down across the goal line for his fourth of the season.
"In my mind, the key to this game was us going out and getting the first goal," head coach Anthony Noreen said. "We knew our guys were going to be hungry, so I was hoping we could get that first one to get the ball rolling."
"That goal definitely gave us the momentum." Lowney said. "When that happened we took the game over."
The Phantoms stretched the lead to 2-0 at the 4:15 mark in the second. Lowney stepped into a heavy shot from the point that whistled along the ice and Connor got a stick on it to deflect it straight up and past Lindskoug.
However, Cameron Darcy cut Youngstown's lead in half less than six minutes later. The Lumberjacks center picked off a pass in the neutral zone and wristed a shot on Romeo, who made the initial save but could not deny Darcy on the second attempt.
Lowney put the Phantoms back up two with his second goal of the night coming on a power play three minutes into the third. Muskegon's passive penalty kill gave the Redford, Mich. native plenty of time to play pitch and catch with Cangelosi at the point and when he saw an open shooting lane, he threw it on net, going bar-down to snap a 0-for-15 slump for the Phantoms on the man-advantage.
"Last night it there were times where it seemed like our D's were standing in quicksand and trying to force a shot through," Noreen said. "Tonight we did a great job of moving east-to-west, creating shooting lanes and putting it on net."
After scoring a pair of goals Friday, Muskegon winger Tyler Heinonen nearly made it a two-goal game again later in the period when he deflected a shot past Romeo, but it was ruled a high-stick after video showed he made contact with the puck well above the crossbar. The Phantoms continued to press even in the final minute of regulation and, with Muskegon serving a penalty for too-many men on the ice, Renouf wound up a shot from the top of the right circle and hammered it into traffic in front of net. The puck was ricocheted off a defender's stick and squeezed past Lindskoug to make it 4-1 with just two second left on the board.
After the game, Noreen said that he believed his team made a big stride with the bounce-back win.
"If we can bring that energy, effort and consistency level every night, from puck drop to the final buzzer, we're going to be a tough team to play against," he said. "That's what our goal is from here on out."
Phantoms by the Numbers
Shots - 32
Saves - 17
Power Play - 2-for-4
Penalty Kill - 6-for-6
Goals - Connor, Lowney (2), Renouf
Assists - Cangelosi (3), Connor, Alfred Larsson, Lowney, Markus McCrea, Josh Nenadal
Next on the Slate
The Phantoms hit the road next week with a Eastern Conference clash against the Chicago Steel Friday before traveling to Neb. to take on perennial Western Conference power Lincoln Saturday.
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