By Joe Catullo jr.
When Youngstown State President Dr. Cynthia Anderson arrived at Covelli Centre on Friday night, she was geared and ready to drop the opening puck for the final time.
What baffled Anderson, though, was the fact that she would do it alone instead of having a penguin beside her.
“Why? Was it too cold for the penguin to come or something?” she asked.
A penguin was supposed to arrive from the Pittsburgh Aviary, but too much snow caused the cancellation. If the penguin was also too cold to arrive, the Youngstown Phantoms were far from it, defeating Indiana Ice, 5-1, and extending their win streak to six.
Friday night was the biggest crowd this season as at least 2,000 presale tickets were sold, and coach Anthony Noreen felt the vibrations.
“It was awesome,” he said with enthusiasm. “I felt the energy from the crowd in the building the whole night. I think that was a big part of our continued energy.”
The Phantoms (19-16-0, 38 points) never trailed, but the Ice (15-23-3, 33 points) scared them with a second-period goal that cut the deficit to 2-1.
Then Sam Anas returned to the ice in the third period and made a quick impact. He was taken out in the first period after a skate struck him in his right thigh. The trainer stitched 14 sutures, and even that could not keep Anas off the ice.
He scored his team-leading 17th goal within the first 37 seconds, increasing the lead to two.
“We wanted to get back to our game,” Noreen said. “No better way to do that than get a goal within the first 30 seconds.”
Anas was unavailable to talk because the trainer wanted to further examine his injury. Austin Cangelosi stepped in and talked about Anas’ tenacity.
“I think Sam is one of the toughest guys in the league,” Austin Cangelosi said. “Other than that, I think that was the turning point in the game. He buried that goal, and then the floodgates opened.”
John Padulo and Alexander Dahl later scored in the period that gave Youngstown a victory.
Cangelosi and Cam Brown tallied the game’s first two goals in the first two periods. All in all, five different players scored, which translates into a team victory.
“I think that’s the biggest difference over the last six or eight weeks,” Noreen said. “We finally have the right pieces in place lineup wise and especially leadership wise that we want here in Youngstown. It’s a selfless effort right now.”
Noreen added that the team does not mention the six-game winning streak, though he thinks this is the best the Phantoms have played all year. All they’re focused on is Saturday night’s rematch with Indiana.
“We know we’re going to have to be better tomorrow obviously,” Noreen said. “All we’re worried about right now is coming out and playing stronger than we did tonight.”