By Tom Williams
After making just 10 saves during 65 minutes of action and going into a shootout against a goaltender who already had 48 stops, the odds didn’t favor Youngstown Phantoms goaltender Jake Moore.
But Moore was perfect in the shootout, making three stops while Sam Anas beat Nick Ellis for the only goal to lift the Phantoms to a 6-5 victory over the Des Moines Buccaneers on Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.
“Honestly, I wasn’t that nervous,” said Moore after winning his second straight USHL start while replacing the suspended Sean Romeo. “Normally, I’m pretty good on breakaways.”
Phantoms head coach Anthony Noreen was confident Moore would handle himself well after overtime ended.
“We were laughing on the bench because Jake [has seen] about 100 to 300 breakaways a week in practices,” said Noreen whose team won its fifth straight game to retain fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. “The guys always have a shootout contest at the end.
“Early in the season when he was our third [goaltender] and the other two would get off the ice, he would always be the last guy on the ice to see shot after shot.
“So he was prepared for this.”
After Christmas, Moore moved up to backup goalie when Patrick Spano was released. He started both games this weekend when Romeo was suspended for two games for fighting.
Twice, the Phantoms (18-16-0, 36 points) rallied from two-goal deficits. Sam Anas scored two power-play goals and plus the only shootout tally. On that play, he drew Buccaneers goalie Nick Ellis out of position, then slipped the puck into the unguarded net.
“I like to use that move a lot,” said Anas who leads the team with 16 goals. “I did it last weekend. You’ve just go to know that the goalie is going to bite and once he does, just quickly pull it over and slide it in.”
Equally impressive was Anas’ second goal that gave the Phantoms a 5-4 lead in the third period. Perched in front of the net, Anas knocked a pass from Nathan Walker into Ellis’ pads.
Anas pounced on the rebound and Ellis was equal to the challenge. But on that rebound, Anas backhanded it high. No one touched him.
“I was surprised,” Anas said. “Usually on a chance like that, the [defensemen] are going to try to knock you on the ice.”
Although he earned no points, Noreen credited Jimmy Mazza’s second-period fight against Garrett Cockerill as the turning point. Cockerill’s bodycheck on John Padulo right after Padulo scored the Phantoms’ second goal was the inspiration.
“We’re one big family, this team,” Mazza said. “We can’t have guys taking liberties out there.”