By Joe Catullo Jr.
After a six-point beating of Team USA on Friday, Youngstown Phantoms head coach Anthony Noreen expected the opposition to come out firing the next day.
For the second straight night, goaltender Sean Romeo was up to the task, posting a 3-0 shutout Saturday at the Covelli Centre.
“They came out and played hard,” Noreen said of the Nationals. “They were right in it.
“I thought they battled right to the end, and I didn’t expect anything less from them.”
Throughout the night, Romeo remained calm and kept his head in the game, two elements he learned earlier in his playing days.
“My whole life, all my goal coaches told me the most important thing is to be calm and at least look confident,” Romeo said. “I always try to portray confidence and try to look calm in there.”
The Phantoms (9-11-0, 18 points) drew first blood early in winning their fourth straight game. Austin Cangelosi recorded his team-leading eighth goal with 15:45 remaining in the first period while John Padulo tallied his team-leading 12th assist.
“Everyone’s up on the bench with positive energy, and it’s easy to build off that,” Cangelosi said.
The game was delayed for approximately five minutes as fans swamped the Covelli Centre ice with more than 500 teddy bears for the Marine Corp Toys for Tots.
Precise defense kept Team USA (5-10-1) off the scoreboard in the second period while the Phantoms notched another point.
During a Team USA power play, Alexander Dahl raced down the ice and missed the shot. However, the puck stopped in front of goalkeeper Eric Schierhorn while he lay motionless face down in the goalie’s blue square. Josh Nenadal saw the opportunity and easily scored his season’s first goal, giving Youngstown a 2-0 lead at the 5:37 mark. Schierhorn remained in the game.
“It was nice to see Josh Nenadal get his first goal in a Phantom jersey tonight,” Noreen said. “He’s played so hard, and he’s another guy that does the ugly things and the things people don’t see. He deserved a goal like that.
“Obviously something we’ve been stressing a lot is taking care of our own end and creating chances by doing that,” Noreen said. “I thought we really did a good job taking care of the defensive side. It led to some offensive opportunities, and thankfully we capitalized.”
With 8:19 remaining in the third period, the Phantoms closed the game with Sam Anas’ eighth-goal of the season while Padulo recorded another assist.