On paper, the task appears daunting: three games in three days in two cities — all immediately after returning from a two-week break with no structured practices.
That’s the lineup for the Youngstown Phantoms this weekend. It’s their first “three-in-three” weekend of the USHL season, thanks to a rescheduling that added Saturday’s game against the Indiana Ice to the schedule.
Ever positive, Phantoms head coach Anthony Noreen views the three-in-three to be well timed.
“We should be fresh,” Noreen said. “What better time to play three games in three days then when you’ve just had a two-week break?
“We should be ready for it,” the third-year head coach said. “There’s no reason anyone should be tired.”
Noreen said he is not concerned with the conditioning of his team, another logical worry following the extended time off.
“A big challenge that we put to our guys before we left was, ‘hey, get a break, but at the same point, make sure you’re taking care of your body. Make sure you know what we have ahead of us. When we get back, make sure you’ve kept yourself in the proper shape,’” Noreen said.
Tonight and Saturday, the Phantoms (7-13-5, 19 points) will host the Ice (14-5-4, 32 points) at the Covelli Centre. Sunday, they’ll be in Muskegon, Mich., to play the Lumberjacks.
One element that could help is that each member of the team took his equipment home and many were able to skate in some capacity, be it with their former teams, local midget teams, or high school squads.
It appears as if several of the Phantoms’ injuries have healed. Goaltender Sean Romeo played in the final game before the holiday break. Noreen is optimistic that forward Tyler Spezia and defenseman Tommy Parran will be able to return soon.
“Those are some guys who play some pretty important minutes for us, so we’re hopeful that we’ll get those guys back and we’re hopeful that they’re where we need them to be,” Noreen said. “It should be a huge injection of energy into our lineup.”