YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The Youngstown Phantoms passed the eye test with flying colors Saturday night, but for stretches, it appeared that the Des Moines Buccaneers would take home the all-important two points on the line. But after 65 minutes, five goals and a whopping 54 shots, Sam Anas put the Phantoms in front for good to down the Buccaneers 6-5 in a shootout.
Anas also chipped in with a pair of power-play goals, while Austin Cangelosi racked up three assists to surpass former teammate Mike Ambrosia as Youngstown's all-time points leader. Markus McCrea and John Padulo found the back of the net for the second straight night and Nathan Walker also notched a goal to give him a point in each of his first four USHL games. In net, Jake Moore surrendered five goals on 15 shots, but came up big in the shootout to secured a fifth straight win for the Phantoms (18-16-0, 36 points).
"Whether we would have won that shootout or not, we earned that game," head coach Anthony Noreen said. "I seemed like Jake got a little bit unlucky tonight, but the bottom line is when we needed him, he stepped up to get us the extra point."
The Buccaneers (18-20-1, 27 points) struck twice within a span of 60 seconds with goals from Ryan Galt and Max Birkinbine to jump out to a 2-0 lead by the 13:43 mark in the first. But, the Phantoms awoke and just 36 seconds later McCrea lined up a wrist shot from the left-wing boards and picked out the top corner on Buccaneers goaltender Nick Ellis to make it a one-goal game heading into the second period.
Des Moines pounced on the Phantoms again to open the second and Danny Elser redirected a shot past Moore to make it 3-1 just 1:09 in. Youngstown responded four minutes later on a rush up ice as Kyle Connor dished the puck to Padulo streaking across the blue line and he fired it past Ellis to make it 3-2.
But right after the puck left his stick, Buccaneers defenseman Garrett Cockerill laid into Padulo with a low hip check and he went crashing into the boards. The Rochester, N.Y. native lied on the ice writhing in pain for some time before he eventually was helped off the ice and brought to the trainer's room.
That play changed the game.
Defenseman Jimmy Mazza, Padulo's roommate, took the ice for the ensuing faceoff with one thing in mind.
"I yelled at [Cockerill] to come off the bench and he came off," he said. "We let the play go and then I went after him. Johnny's like a brother out here. You can't let that happen to a teammate like that. I know he'd do the same thing for me."
Mazza and Cockerill tossed the gloves and went right at it, landing blow after blow until finally linesmen came to intervene. The crowd and Youngstown bench erupted as Mazza was escorted to the penalty box.
"That was the turning point. No doubt," Noreen said. "We felt their guy took a liberty on Johnny and more than one of our guys were willing to go out there and stick up for him. It absolutely turned the momentum in our favor. We didn't look back from then."
Anas tied the game up on the power play at the 11:46 mark. Cangelosi dished the puck to Ryan Lowney at the point and he wound up, fired it on net and Anas got a stick on it in the slot to redirect past Ellis. The assist edged Cangelosi past Ambrosia for the Phantoms all-time points lead.
Despite the game decidedly tilting in Youngstown's favor, the Buccaneers retook the lead at the 17:08 mark when Eric Martinsson threw a shot toward net and in pinballed through a maze of sticks and skates to beat Moore. The Phantoms did not miss a beat and tied the game back up 32 seconds later when Anas fed a pass across the goalmouth and right into Walker's wheelhouse. The Australian winger whipped a one-timer between Ellis' legs to make it 4-4 head into the third.
Anas gave the Phantoms their first lead of the game, scoring just 11 seconds into a power play at the 6:19 mark of the third. Lowney moved it to the Potomac, Md. native, who was sitting by himself at the top of the crease, and on his third backhand whack, the puck bounced past Ellis.
"I was surprised," Anas said. "Usually a chance like that in front of the net and their [defensemen] are going to try to knock you on the ice. But I was there and able to put it in."
But the Bucs were able to knot the game back up with six minutes remaining when Roman Uchyn tipped a shot in mid-air and directed it past Moore to force overtime. The Phantoms dominated play in the extra period, outshooting the Buccaneers 9-1, but could not solve Ellis to send the game to a shootout.
Youngstown went with Anas as the first shooter and the Quinnipiac commit skated the puck straight down the center, faked it to his backhand before dragging it back to his forehand to neatly slot it into the yawning net. That proved to be all the Phantoms would need as Moore stepped up in the shootout, turning away all three of Des Moines' shooters to secure a franchise record fifth straight win.
"It's funny, I don't typically know a lot of streaks and stats, but that's something I did know going into tonight," Noreen said. "We didn't talk about it, but it's something I thought about all last night. We've been close a couple times, but it just seemed like we couldn't get over the hump. But tonight, I just felt it in our locker room."
Phantoms by the Numbers
Shots - 54
Saves - 10
Power Play - 2-for-5
Penalty Kill - 1-for-1
Goals - Anas (2), McCrea, Padulo, Walker
Assists - Anas, Cam Brown, Cangeolsi (3), Connor, Alfred Larsson, Lowney, Dan Renouf
Next on the Slate
The Phantoms are back home at the next weekend with a pair of games against Eastern Conference clashes with Indiana Ice. Puck drop is set for 7:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.
Phantoms Flex Packages are on sale now starting at the low price of just $75. Flex Packages include 10 undated ticket vouchers that can be redeemed at any game and in any increment throughout the rest of the season. Call 330.747.PUCK (7825) for more information or to reserve a Phantoms Flex Package today. For all the latest news, visit www.YoungstownPhantoms.com, follow the Phantoms on Twitter (@YtownPhantoms) and 'like' them on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/YoungstownPhantoms).
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