ANN ARBOR, MICH.
Nathan Walker and Sam Anas each scored two goals Friday as the Youngstown Phantoms snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over Team USA at the Ice Cube.
The Phantoms’ victory coupled with Muskegon’s 4-3 loss to Green Bay has Youngstown (34-25-0, 68 points) just two points behind third-place Muskegon (30-21-10, 70 points). Youngstown has two games in hand on the Lumberjacks.
Goaltender Sean Romeo stopped 31 shots to record his 29th victory, a franchise record. Last season, Matt O’Connor set the old mark with 28 wins.
Walker’s first goal, set up by Austin Cangelosi and Ryan Lowney, was the only tally of the first period.
The Nationals tied the game when Ryan Hitchcock scored a power-play goal early in the second period.
The Phantoms responded with three goals before the period ended.
“We relied on Sean a lot in the first period,” Phantoms head coach Anthony Noreen said. “He made some big saves and held us in there.
“But when they scored to tie it up 1-1 [early in the second] I thought the game turned around completely,” Noreen said. “We responded really well.”
About two minutes later, Walker put the Phantoms ahead, 2-1, with an assist from Anas.
“Nathan did a great job of under-handing pucks tonight,” Noreen said. “Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard it is or how accurate, just put the shot on the goalie before he’s set.”
Ten minutes later, John Padulo and Anas scored unassisted goals within a span of 2:09 to make it 4-1 Youngstown.
Hitchcock’s second goal of the game sliced the Phantoms’ advantage to two about two minutes into the third period.
About five minutes later, Anas sealed the victory with a goal set up by Kyle Mackey.
Friday’s win was the first of three games in three days for Youngstown. Tonight, the Phantoms will be in Chicago to play the Steel.
Sunday, they’ll close the roadtrip against the Indiana Ice in Indianapolis.