Phantoms fever spreads

Youngstown returns home for two games against top-seeded Green Bay

By Tom Williams


A video that has become an Internet and ESPN favorite plus a road upset of the USHL’s best team has the Youngstown Phantoms soaring for Game 3 of their second-round playoff series.

In the April 16 playoff against Cedar Rapids, forward Austin Cangelosi’s backhand flip shot over RoughRiders goaltender Jake Hildebrand came down on the netminder’s stickside shoulder then fell into the net for the Phantoms’ 4-3 overtime win, their first postseason triumph.

A video of the goal has received more than 666,000 hits on YouTube and was selected as one of ESPN’s Top 10 Weekend Plays on Sunday.

“I never thought it would get as big as it did,” said Cangelosi, who saw the video on ESPN on Saturday night in the team’s hotel in Green Bay after the Phantoms had lost Game 1 of their best-of-5 series against the Gamblers.

“I got a phone call from my roommate [Soren Jonzzon] and a couple of other guys who had seen it,” the first-year Phantom said. “I watched it an hour later.

“I was pretty happy, pretty excited — it’s a moment that doesn’t happen too often.”

On Sunday, the Phantoms rebounded from a dismal 7-1 loss with a 5-3 victory over the top-seeded Gamblers to tie the series. Games 3 and 4 will be played tonight and Wednesday at the Covelli Centre.

Asked how it felt to beat the USHL’s best team after two seasons of missing the playoffs, forward Dylan Margonari said, “I won’t say relieved, but it felt really good.

“We’ve been looking forward to playing Green Bay in the playoffs,” said Margonari, who joined the Phantoms in the middle of their first USHL season. “We don’t like their team so it was nice to get a win in their building.”

Soren Jonzzon scored two power-play goals as the Phantoms rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the second period. Margonari scored the Phantoms’ first goal and the empty-netter that sealed the victory. Cangelosi also scored a power-play goal.

Goaltender Matthew O’Connor, who was taken out of Saturday’s game after allowing four goals in the first period, stopped 40 Green Bay shots, including 24 in the third period.

“We came in a little bit too loose and we had a rude awakening,” O’Connor said. “I personally was a lot more focused [Sunday].”

O’Connor cited “a lot of blocked shots, a lot of winning battles in the corner, back pressure — there was a lot of support from the forwards.”

Jonzzon’s second goal came 2:42 into the third period and put the Phantoms ahead, 4-3. O’Connor described the team’s mentality as “refuse to lose once we had that lead.

“Luckily I kept a lot of the rebounds under control,” the second-year netminder said of a busy third period. “And a lot of the shots were from the perimeter.”

Bart Logan, the Phantoms media relations and coordinator, submitted the Cangelosi video to YouTube where it was noticed by Yahoo! and CBSSports. Pritt Entertainment Group, which produces the Phantoms’ in-arena material, made another clip with higher quality footage and the hits took off.

During the trip to Wisconsin, Margonari said the team bonded over the Cangelosi video.

“We kept watching to see how many views it was getting up to,” Margonari said. “I told him, ‘Cange, this is going to be on ESPN.’”

Logan submitted the video to ESPN and it was selected number three for Saturday’s Top 10 Plays. Sunday night, Cangelosi’s goal was ninth for the weekend’s Top Plays.

Phantoms coach Anthony Noreen was one of the first to see the ESPN countdown.

“We were back at the hotel and the guys were sitting around eating,” Noreen said. “‘SportsCenter’ was on. None of us knew it was coming and it was kind of a shock to everyone. It put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces. That’s as much national publicity as we’ve ever had.”

When word spread that the video had made Saturday’s list, Margonari said several players gathered.

“We were watching the Top 10 counting down and [Alex] Gacek said, ‘I know you’re better than this one, Cange.’ So it got to three when his video popped up and we just went nuts. It was cool thing to see.

“It’s huge for the USHL — it’s getting the league out there. Everyone was getting texts from their buddies back home — it was big for our league and our team.”

Teammates teased Cangelosi about the responses he must be receiving on Twitter and Facebook. Cangelosi said he’s not a member of either social media outlet.

“They’re not for me — I stay away from them,” Cangelosi said.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.