By Tom Williams
The Youngstown Phantoms won’t know until later today just how many of their injured players will be cleared medically to play in Friday’s game against the Lincoln Stars.
As of Wednesday, the only player who definitely won’t play is forward Alfred Larsson, who missed last week’s road-trip to the Dakotas and Iowa.
John Padulo also did not play last weekend. By Saturday, Austin Cangelosi, Kyle Connor, Mac MacSorley and Markus McCrea were hurt, missing their game in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Following Wednesday’s practice, Phantoms assistant coach Rob Rassey said the team might have to call up some of its affiliate players.
“We’re still waiting on some medical reports,” Rassey said.
On the trip, defenseman Dan Renouf suffered a broken wrist and sat out Wednesday’s session.
Rassey said the first solution to replacing players would be to give a lot more ice time to skaters already on the bench.
“Some guys would be getting more of an opportunity to play, a more prominent role,” Rassey said. “And we have the possibility of bringing in affiliate players. We’re keeping our options open.”
Friday, the Phantoms (4-5-0, 8 points) will try to snap a five-game losing streak when the Stars visit the Covelli Centre. The Stars (6-0-0, 12 points) are the first-place team in the Western Conference.
The Phantoms’ penalty killers have been effective during the streak but the power play has been ineffective.
“We’re struggling on the power play,” Rassey said. “We’re struggling, in general, in scoring goals so when we get opportunities with the man-advantage, we’ve got to do a better job to capitalize.”
Against the Stampede on Saturday, the Phantoms’ power-play unit went 0-for-2. Friday in Sioux City, Iowa, the Phantoms were 0-for-6 against the Musketeers. And in the trip opener last Thursday in Fargo, N.D., the Phantoms were 0-for-5 with an extra skater.
“Sometime when you are struggling, it takes a lucky bounce to get you going,” Rassey. “That’s kind of what we need to happen right now.”
Assisting head coach Anthony Noreen during the Wednesday practice Ray Bennett, assistant coach with the NHL’s locked-out St. Louis Blues. Bennett’s son Kale is a Phantoms defenseman.
Goaltender Sean Romeo was the Phantoms bright spot last week. He played more than 140 minutes over three days — he started two games and added a relief appearance.
Romeo turned away 82 of 87 shots he faced for a .943 save percentage and 2.10 goals against average.