Phantoms rally to melt Ice

— Youngstown Phantoms defensema Ryan Lowney set up four third-period goals and five overall to spark his team to a 5-3 come-from-behind victory over the Indiana Ice on Wednesday night.

After snapping a four-game drought on the man-advantage last Saturday in Muskegon, the Phantoms (7-11-0, 14 points) went 4-for-5 on the power play at the Pan America Plaza to win their second straight game.

Eric Sweetman, Sam Anas, John Padulo and Markus McCrea all capitalized for Youngstown on the man-advantage, while first-year forward Kyle Connor also found the back of the net for the second straight game. Between the pipes, Sean Romeo was again steady turning away 30 of 33 shots for his fifth win of he season.

“This is huge for us,” Lowney said. “This was a must-win game for us to get our season going again and get back on the winning side. The guys all battled hard and came out with a big win in the third.”

The Phantoms burst out of the gate with purpose and, buoyed by an early power play, tallied six shots against the Ice (6-13-1, 13 points) before Romeo was even tested. When he was later in the first, the Cary, N.C. native was more than up to task, highlighted by a sprawling glove save against Indiana leading-scorer Austin Ortega just past the midway point of the period.

The teams entered the first intermission scoreless, but Sweetman broke the gridlock on a power play 7:38 into second period. Lowney slid to keep a puck in at the left blue line and did a quick give-and-go with Luke Stork before passing it across the ice for Sweetman at the top of the right circle. The St. Lawrence recruit teed it up and blasted it low, beating Indiana goaltender Dalton Iyzk just inside the far post to put the Phantoms in front.

Ice forward Brian Morgan responded with a pair of goals over a span of 1:05 – one the product of a fortuitous bounce off the half-wall and the other off a rebound – to give his team a 2-1 lead heading into the third. Phantoms blue liner Dan Renouf was boxed for interference 2:18 into the final period and Morgan needed only 10 seconds on the power play to complete his hat trick, knocking a rebound past Romeo to give Indiana a two-goal cushion.

“I honestly think that the third goal that they scored was kind of a turning point for us,” head coach Anthony Noreen said. “It wasn’t really anything from [the coaching staff]. The guys on the bench flipped the switch and decided they weren’t going to let this happen.”

Anas got the comeback started on the man-advantage when he knocked in a rebound off Lowney’s point shot to cut the Indiana’s lead to one at the 5:18 mark.

Less than two minutes later, Lowney chipped a puck up to Connor in the neutral zone, and 15-year-old put on a one-man show. The Michigan recruit burst down the left-wing wall, dodged a defenseman stepping up at the blue line and strolled toward across the slot – side-stepping another sprawling blue liner – before putting a backhand past Iyzk to knot the game up at 3-3.

“There aren’t many people in the world – in this league or any league – that can score a goal like that,” Noreen said. “That’s as pretty a goal as we’ve seen this year and it comes from, outside of the National Team, the youngest kid in the league.”

Indiana’s Tyler Pham and Matt Krug were both whistled for penalties with 8:54 remaining in regulation, giving the Phantoms a two-man advantage for two full minutes, and that proved to be more than enough. Padulo put in a rebound just 15 seconds into the initial power play and Cangelosi set up McCrea in the slot just 1:23 later to make it a 5-3 game.

“We were moving the puck really well and creating a lot of chances,” Lowney said. “I was just lucky and fortunate enough for the guys to bury them as soon as I passed it.”

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