Phantoms’ furious final minute leads to OT victory
By ryan buck
The fireworks illuminating downtown Youngstown in celebration of the USHL opening weekend had a fitting opening act in the form of the Youngstown Phantoms Saturday night at Covelli Centre.
Trailing the visiting Des Moines Buccaneers 3-1 in the closing minute of regulation, the Phantoms scored twice to tie the game and then a minute and a half into overtime for a thrilling 4-3 win.
“As a coach or a player, I’ve never been a part of that before with two goals in the last minute,” said second-year Phantoms coach Anthony Noreen. “It was a winning effort. The guys didn’t give up. I’m proud of them for sure.”
Forward Luke Stork’s putback goal cut the Phantoms’ deficit to 3-2 with 51.1 seconds remaining in the third period. After pulling goalie Patrick Spano, team captain Austin Cangelosi pounced on another loose puck in front of the Bucs’ net with 25.6 left to tie the contest.
Ninety-eight seconds into overtime, with a four-on-four player format, defenseman Dan Renouf drilled a shot through traffic and past Des Moines goalie Nick Ellis for the winner.
Renouf collected a cross-ice pass at the blue line, saw the commotion in front of the net, and took his shot.
“I got the puck from [Kyle] Connor, saw Stork was in front of the net, just wristed it on net and it went through,” Renouf said. “We had no doubt all the way through. It’s a great way to start the season and hopefully we’ll build on this.”
Saturday’s frantic finish came after 59 minutes of disappointing play.
“Up until the third period, it was way below our expectations,” Noreen said. “Obviously we’ll take a win and we’re excited that we got it in front of our home crowd.”
The Buccaneers (0-2) struck first when Axel Wemmenborn pounced on a rebound opportunity in front of Spano’s net for a 1-0 lead. They added another five minutes into the second period when Tanner Karty smacked in another rebound off Spano’s pads.
Stork notched his first goal of the game seven minutes into the second. His wrist shot off an assist from John Padulo cut the deficit in half.
The Phantoms (2-0) seemed to build momentum until Des Moines’ Wemmenborn struck again. He gathered a pass from Zach Saar, drove to the net, and stuffed in a short-handed goal past Spano to push the lead to 3-1.
Noreen wanted his team to focus on the basics heading into the final period.
“In between the second and third intermission we talked about doing things that take no skill,” Noreen said. “We talked about, if you’re on the bench, bringing positive energy, encouraging and helping your teammates no matter what the score was.”
The Phantoms pushed the tempo on Des Moines and took their shots at the Bucs’ net, looking for loose pucks and rebound opportunities.
“We could feel like something good was going to happen,” Noreen said. “Obviously we got rewarded at the end.”