By Joe Catullo Jr.
It didn’t take long for things to get chippy between the Youngstown Phantoms and Des Moines Buccaneers on Friday night.
Des Moines’ Ali Thomas crosschecked Youngstown’s John Padulo and threw him chest-first to the ice with 9:09 remaining in the first period. Thomas was ejected.
Padulo returned to the ice in the second period, and within the first two seconds knocked down Tyler Dorantes in front of the Buccaneers’ bench, sending a message in the Phantoms’ 4-2 victory.
“We’re going to stick up for ourselves is all I’m going to say on that one,” Youngstown coach Anthony Noreen said. “They play hard and we play hard. If either one of us thinks the other took liberty on the other guys, it’s probably going to happen.”
There were numerous fights throughout, including the first one for newcomer Nathan Walker with 15:22 left in the first period.
Walker, a native of Australia, was ranked the 25th best European skater on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings before the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Walker, playing in his third game, assisted Cam Brown’s sixth goal with 30 seconds remaining in the first period that put the Phantoms (19-18-0) ahead 3-1.
“There’s a great bunch of guys here, and they’ve been helping me through the way,” Walker said. “It’s difficult to come over midseason, but we’re working on it.”
Padulo collected the game’s first goal with his sixth at the 16:07 mark during an exciting first period. The Buccaneers (18-19-1) evened the score with Willem Nong-Lambert’s goal at the 11:34 mark, a shot goaltender Jake Moore let slip past his glove.
“First goal was kind of shaky, but he showed great character and a lot of adversity,” Padulo said. “It’s a great confidence for him, and he’ll look to build that off tomorrow.”
Moore, making his first United States Hockey League start, rebounded afterward and allowed one more goal in the fourth period. He replaced Sean Romeo due to a two-game suspension for fighting and will also start tonight against Des Moines.
Noreen said the team was not happy about its performance, but Moore was the biggest positive.
“I thought he did a great job back there giving us every chance to win,” Noreen said. “He obviously wanted the first one back, and that’s not easy to rebound from in your first game as a young kid.”
The Phantoms ended the first period with two goals. One was by Markus McCrea with 6:52 remaining, and the other from Brown.
After a scoreless second period, Luke Stork connected with 14:55 left in the third. Then Luke Voltin scored for the Buccaneers 58 seconds later. It the game’s final goal.
The Phantoms have won four in a row and are 4-1 in 2013. They’ve won six of their last seven games.