With their fourth win in five games, the Youngstown Phantoms are slowly separating themselves from most of the USHL teams chasing them from the Eastern Conference’s final playoff berth.
Alfred Larsson, Cam Brown and James Mazza scored goals in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Muskegon Lumberjacks at the Covelli Centre.
Goaltender Sean Romeo made 30 saves for his 20th win of the season.
Today at 1 p.m., the second-place Lumberjacks (26-14-8, 60 points) and fourth-place Phantoms (24-20-0, 48 points) will battle again at the Covelli Centre.
Once again, an early lead paid dividends for the Phantoms, who are 17-4 when they score first. Larsson’s power-play goal in the first period was set up by Daniel Renouf and Kyle Connor.
The lead doubled in the second period when Brown beat Lumberjacks goalie Kevin Lindskoug. Sam Anas and Mazza had assists.
The game tightened with 8:53 remaining when the Lumberjacks’ Chad McDonald beat Romeo to slice the Phantoms’ lead to 2-1. Michael brodzinski and Jeff Kubiak assisted on the goal.
Four minutes later, Mazza responded with a goal set up by John Padulo and Zach Evancho.
The Phantoms’ win gives them a five-point lead over Cedar Rapids (18-22-7, 43 points).