When: Today at 7:05 p.m.
Where: Ice Cube, Ann Arbor, Mich.
By Tom Williams
Anthony Noreen was pleased with how the Youngstown Phantoms played at last week’s USHL Fall Classic in Sioux City, Iowa, when they won two of the three games.
But the Phantoms’ first-year coach said his hockey team was taught a valuable lesson in the third contest, a 6-4 loss to the Lincoln Stars.
“We learned a lesson that we’re good because we work hard,” Noreen said. “When we don’t work, we are very average or even below average.
“The last game, we had a lull for about a period to a period-and-a-half,” Noreen said. “Then when we did turn it on, we were able to get right back into that game.
“The biggest learning lesson we could take from it was the final game when we saw that when we didn’t have the pedal to the metal against Lincoln, we just weren’t that good.”
The Phantoms hope to take take that lesson with them to Ann Arbor, Mich., for tonight’s USHL season opener against Team USA’s 17-U squad.
Next week, the Phantoms also play just one game. That one will be in Chicago against the Steel on Oct. 7.
Noreen doesn’t mind having extra time to teach as his squad prepares for the franchise’s third season in the USHL.
“It’s good because you know we can leave it all on the ice,” said Noreen of not having back-to-back games on the road.
“The other thing that’s nice at the beginning is that there are a lot of details of the game that we’re still trying to implement, still trying to talk about,” Noreen said. “It gives us [more] time to prepare for the next team.
“It gives us a good amount practices between each game to try and implement new stuff, break down the film of each game without having to worry about who we are playing the next night.
The Phantoms’ win at the USHL Classic were against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (5-4) and the Sioux Fall Stampede (7-2).
“We did really well together,” forward Ryan Belonger said. “I felt each game we improved and that’s probably the most important thing for preseason games.”
Against the RoughRiders, Noreen said, “the message was to send a statement. We were playing a team in Cedar Rapids that this organization had never beaten before. We came out and played hard.
“We were down 3-1 but we came back and were able to find a way to win and it was simply because we outworked them.”
Belonger added, “We just kept battling back and ended up winning that game, which was big. Then we put a pretty good beating on Sioux Falls, that was a big character win for us.”
Linemate Mike Ambrosia said the team is “going to have to battle hard, get a lot of shots on net.
”We’re not going to be the prettiest team but that’s the type of team we’re going to have to be if we want to win games in this league.”
Noreen said newcomer Austin Cangelosi will play on the top line with Belonger and Ambrosia.
“He’s a young player — a [Class of], ’94, which is pretty young for this league,” Belonger said. “He’s really skilled, fast — a smaller guy but he really has the ability to make plays. I think we will do really well together.”
“He often finds your stick with the puck,” Ambrosia said. “He’s easy to play with.”
Noreen is ready to see what the Phantoms have put together as they seek their first playoff berth.
“Overall, the work ethic of the team was good [in Iowa]. It needs to be better and it’s something to learn from,” Noreen said.