YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Jimmy Mazza picked quite the time for his first career USHL goal. With less than five minutes to go in the third period, and just four minutes after the Muskegon Lumberjacks had cut the lead in half, the first-year Youngstown Phantoms defenseman gathered up a bouncing puck at the blue line and drilled a slap shot that glanced off the goaltender's glove before skipping across the line.
Comeback? No thanks.
The Phantoms held on to win 3-1, picking up their fourth victory in six meetings with the rival Lumberjacks this season. Cam Brown's second-period goal held up as the eventual game-winner and Alfred Larsson added a power-play marker in the first to open up Youngstown's five-game homestand with win. Goaltender Sean Romeo confidently turned away 30 shots to pick up his 20th win of the season.
"A little bit of the third period was going in [Muskegon's] favor and obviously they get the goal and it tilts the momentum in their way," head coach Anthony Noreen said. "For Jimmy Mazza to come back and get the first one of his career - it's absolutely huge."
The Phantoms (24-20-0, 48 points) led 1-0 after the first period but the defensive core was dealt a blow early in the second when Tommy Davis was ejected for fighting after the play stoppage. Right wing John Padulo was smashed from behind into the boards by Muskegon defenseman Carter Foguth, and as the officials addressed the incident, Davis skated in from the blue line to stick up for his teammate and challenged Cam Darcy, who was more than willing to oblige.
Davis landed a slew of right hooks throughout the bout, and took down Darcy with a final blow and then escorted to the penalty box by the linesman before referee Sean Fernandez informed both players that their night's were over, leaving the Phantoms with just five defenseman for the final 35 minutes.
"I have no issues whatsoever with what Tommy did," Noreen said. "All five of those 'D' played a ton of minutes and I thought those guys did a great job of stepping up."
Brown put the Phantoms up two 10 minutes into the second period, finishing off an excellent offensive sequence that he initiated himself with an electrifying end-to-end rush. Mazza sent a snap shot from the point that was trapped by Sam Anas in the slot. The Quinnipiac commit slid the puck through Muskegon defenseman Patrick Koudys' legs, retrieved it and dished it over Brown at the bottom of the circle, who fired it past goaltender Kevin Lindskoug for his ninth goal of the season.
"It was a nice play by Sammy," Brown said. "He kind of shot it and it came right back to him and he gave it back to me. It was a pretty easy finish."
The Lumberjacks (26-15-8, 60 points) came out with a purpose in the third outshooting the Phantoms 9-2- to open the period. Chad McDonald got Muskegon on the board at the 11:07 mark when he redirected a shot from Michael Brodzinski out of mid-air to make it 2-1 and ruin Romeo's bid for his fifth shutout.
"Usually I think you would see most goalies go nuts disputing it saying it was a high stick," Noreen said. "Sean was un-phased. He skated around, got right back in there and was ready for the next shift.
"That's why he's the backbone of our team, because that's the attitude we all want to have."
Mazza put the Phantoms back in front two at the 15:09 mark after a hardworking shift from Padulo and Zach Evancho.
"I'll give myself a little credit on that one," Mazza joked. "I've been practicing. Hopefully they start coming a little more often."
Larsson opened the scoring on a power play 13 minutes into the first period, firing the puck in after Kyle Connor rang it off the far post. It marked the sixth straight game Youngstown has scored the first goal.
Phantoms by the Numbers
Shots - 32
Saves - 30
Power Play - 1-for-3
Penalty Kill - 3-for-3
Goals - Brown, Larsson, Mazza
Assists - Anas, Connor, Evancho, Mazza, Padulo, Dan Reounf
Next on the Slate
The Phantoms and Lumberjacks are right back at it Sunday at the Covelli Centre. Puck drop is set for 1 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast on Sports Radio 1240 and FASTHockey.com.
Sunday is the Phantoms Family Day. The festivities will be highlighted by a "Big Top Stop" from The Fur Circus, but also include pregame activities on the concourse and a free postgame skate for fans with the Phantoms players. The Covelli Centre doors will open early at 11:30 a.m. EST for loads of pregame fun with free face painting, a design-a-sign station and the FURlarious antics of The Fur Circus! In addition, all children 10 years and under will receive a free bouncing session in the inflatable Bounce-A-Round house.
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).
Headquartered in Chicago, the USHL celebrates its 11th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2012-13. With 19 NHL Draft picks on team rosters and more than 250 players already committed to NCAA Division I schools this season, the USHL has emerged as the world's foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League's social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey.
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