By greg gulas
Nick Schmaltz and Sebastian Weberg each scored a goal and an assist on Saturday to help the Green Bay Gamblers to a 5-2 decision over the Youngstown Phantoms at the Covelli Centre.
Goalie Cam Hackett turned back 30 of Youngstown’s 32 shots in United States Hockey League action.
Sam Anas scored both goals for the Phantoms.
The win gives Green Bay (5-8-2, 12 points) sole possession of fifth place in league’s Eastern Division, two points ahead of the Phantoms (5-10-0, 10 points). Green Bay won for the fourth time in five games.
Both teams remain shorthanded during this weekend’s two-game series. The Phantoms are missing top scorers Austin Cangelosi and J.T. Stenglein, while the Gamblers are missing their top line of Nicholas Schilkey, Sheldon Dries and Alex Kile, as well as coach Derek Lalonde. All are with the Team USA Jr. Selects at the World Junior A Challenge in Nova Scotia.
“Youngstown is missing their top two scorers and we knew that we would have to take advantage of that if we expected to win,” Gamblers coach Pat Mikesch said. “Austin and J.T. really beat us up a year ago.”
The Phantoms have dropped 10 of their last 11 games and are 0-3 against the Gamblers this season.
“I thought we did an excellent job the last 20 minutes and by no means did I think that we played bad tonight,” Phantoms head coach Anthony Noreen said. “That being said we made some mistakes and they just capitalized on those opportunities tonight.
“We don’t feel sorry for ourselves because we have some guys out or missing. This is a chance for our younger guys to now step up and hopefully this will help them as the season progresses,” Noreen said.
The Phantoms and Gamblers will close out their two-game set today at 2 p.m. at the Covelli Centre.
“Our defense has gotten stronger over the last two weeks and with a lot of young kids getting an opportunity to play right now, we’re learning as we go,” Mikesch said.
The Gamblers’ Kyle Novak scored the only goal of the first period.
In the second period, Ryan Sirocky stole the puck deep in the Phantoms’ end of the ice, then put the puck past the outstretched arm of Phantoms goalie Patrick Spano.
“Our goaltending of late has been outstanding, keeping is in the game and giving is a chance to win,” Sirocky said.
In the third period, Brandon Kirk scored early for a 3-0 lead.
Anas scored his first goal midway through the final period. Green Bay answered 91 seconds later with Schmaltz scoring.
“Our defense was able to create turnovers tonight and we were able to bury our chances. That was the key,” Schmaltz said.