Phantoms jump on Ice early
By Matthew Peaslee
Three periods of a hockey game take 60 minutes.
The Youngstown Phantoms didn’t even need seven minutes to put their game away on Thursday night.
Youngstown scored three goals in six minutes, 59 seconds at the Covelli Centre and downed the Indiana Ice, 5-1. On Tuesday, the Phantoms fell to Team USA, 8-2.
“When we start well, we get the result that we want,” said Youngstown coach Anthony Noreen. “That was a big emphasis after that loss the other night.
“I thought the first five minutes of the game were very good and I thought that our last five minutes of the game were very good.”
Kyle Connor opened the scoring with his 10th goal of the season at the 16:30 mark of the first period. Alex Dahl added the second, his 15th goal, and Sam Anas netted his 29th of the season on a backhanded flip.
“That was just a brain cramp [on Tuesday],” Anas said. “Our line is clicking right now. We had a lot of tic-tac-toe passing which is what we go for.”
Youngstown goaltender Sean Romeo was nine minutes, 54 seconds away from his sixth shutout of the season. He stopped 22 shots in his 28th win, but allowed an Alex Talcott goal midway through the third period.
“Obviously, you want it,” Romeo said referring to the shutout, “but a win is a win.”
Last year, Romeo went 4-5, while allowing 45 goals. In 2011, he played in just one United States Hockey League game.
“Sean is a typical success story of this league,” Noreen said. “He came in small and undersized and looked like he was about 10 years old. He’s grown up as a goalie and a kid. He’s a leader and when he talks, people listen.”
Matt O’Connor and Jordan Tibbett, two of the Phantoms goalies over the past three seasons, combined for 135 wins. It’s that success that has fueled Romeo.
“I got lucky having those two partners to show me the ropes,” he said. “It’s hard not to feed off them because they were two great guys and great players. I owe a lot of this season to them and I have such pride in this team and in this city. I love playing here.”
In the final five minutes of regulation, the Phantoms (32-22) scored two power-play goals.
Dan Renouf netted his eighth of the season after Indiana’s Josh Jacobs was charged with cross-checking on John Padulo. Twenty seconds later, Talcott was whistled for a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking Anas from behind.
“It hurt my back a little bit, but it wasn’t too bad,” Anas said. “I talked to the kid after and he apologized. He wasn’t trying to hurt me or anything. Stuff happens.”
Then, a Nathan Walker goal happened. The Sydney, Australia native closed the scoring with his fifth goal of the season.
“The great thing right now is that it is an enjoyable group to be around,” Noreen said. “They put what we tell them into action. I haven’t had to scream or yell very much in quite some time.”
Still, the third-year head coach is no softie.
“Absolutely not,” he said, laughing. “The things that I do scream about are attitude and effort. If those two things are in place, usually we’re pretty good.”
Youngstown remains in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Ice dropped to 19-31 on the year and are seventh in the conference.