Fight Night interrupts Phantoms’ OT victory
By Tom Williams
What’s more fun than a fight in the middle of a hockey game? How about five at once.
Late in the second period of the Youngstown Phantoms’ 3-2 overtime win over the Waterloo Black Hawks on Saturday, Phantoms defenseman Scott Mayfield was skating away from a skirmish behind the net when Andrew Panzarella went after him.
Civility fled the Covelli Centre within seconds as Phantoms Ryan Belonger, Stu Higgins, Mike Ambrosia and Ben Paulides joined Mayfield to grapple with Panzarella, Anthony Day, Aaron Pearce, Ian McCoshen and Jamie Hill, who left the penalty box to join in the fray.
It took referee Ian Shaver more than 10 minutes to sort out the penalties.
Belonger, Higgins, Ambrosia and Paulides were ejected as were all five Black Hawks.
“Scott had to defend himself so he just got five,” Phantoms coach Curtis Carr said. “They lost five and we lost four, but it was a big four that we lost.”
At the time of the melee, the Phantoms (13-18-3, 29 points) led 2-0. But John Siemer’s two unassisted goals in the third period forced overtime.
Late in the extra session, Cody Strang stole puck from Alex Guptill in the Black Hawks’ zone. Strang pulled goalie C.J. Motte out then slid the puck into the unguarded net for the winning goal,
“I was pretty tired but I still had a little energy left,” Strang said after Carr estimated he played about 45 minutes because of the bench shortage. “It was a lot of ice [time] but it was fun.
“The goalie kind of dove out so [I had] an open net,” said Strang who also scored the Phantoms’ first goal about eight minutes into the game.
On that goal, Strang took a pass from Jiri Sekac, skated to Motte’s left then lifted the puck into the top of the net just past the crossbar.
Midway through the second period, Stephen Collins gave the Phantoms a two-goal edge. Collins found the puck in the corner, skated along the goal line then flipped a backhand shot past Motte.
Shortly after that, the fireworks went off.
Paulides said Mayfield was skating to the penalty box when Panzarella “got him at the blue line. At that point, I jumped in and somebody [else] did after me.
“For them to cheap shot Mayfield,” we had to step up,” Paulides said.
Carr wasn’t surprised.
“We preach to be physical, be a family, to stand up for one another,” Carr said.
Twenty-four penalties totalling 165 minutes were assessed in that sequence.
‘We’re [two] points up on them so it’s huge to get that,” said Strang of the race for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. “It’s a big team victory, with guys stepping up.”
The Black Hawks record is 11-16-5, 27 points.
Phantoms goalie Greg Lewis stopped 29 shots to earn his fourth win in six starts.
“He’s playing unbelievable, one of the best goalies in the league right now,” Strang said. “He’s pretty hot.”