Phantoms close Classic with win over Gamblers

Staff report


The Youngstown Phantoms scored three times in the final 4:16 to earn a 4-1 exhibition victory over the Green Bay Gamblers on Saturday, the final day of the USHL Fall Classic.

First-year winger JJ Piccinich snapped the 1-1 tie by stretching his stick out on the backhand to redirect a point-shot five hole on Green Bay netminder Cam Hackett.

“It was a pretty unbelievable feeling,” Piccinich said. “I’m just glad we got the win and I could help the team out.”

Fifteen seconds later, Sam Anas led a quick counter ttack and hit Austin Cangelosi on the backdoor for an easy score.

“One of the most important shifts you’re going to play in a game is after you score a goal or give up a goal — how you respond,” Noreen said. “We went with a veteran line and Sammy and Cange went out and did their job.”

Eric Sweetman added an empty-net goal.

“We were tied for two periods today and it was good to see how our guys responded to that,” Phantoms head coach Anthony Noreen said. “We gave a lot of guys some opportunities that they hadn’t had in this league before. I thought was a good experience.”

Markus McCrea also scored for Youngstown, which finished the Fall Classic with a 2-1 record and the preseason 3-2-0.

Goaltender Patrick Spano stopped 16 of 17 shots.

Matt Weis put Green Bay in front on the first shot of the game when he rang the puck off the crossbarat 1:10 in to the game.

McCrea knotted the game at the 14:29 mark. Alfred Larsson forced a turnover and hit McCrea along the left-wing wall and the brawny winger beat Hackett with a low wristshot.

“From what we saw in two games, [McCrea] plays our game to a tee,” Noreen said. “He’s not afraid to mix it up and get his nose dirty. It’s always good to see guys like that get rewarded with a goal.”

Brendan Lemieux had a chance to give the Gamblers the lead early in the third period when he found himself on a breakaway, but Spano stoned him with a kick save on the initial shot and the rebound.

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