By Tom Williams
In hockey, shorthanded is primarily used to describe a team killing a penalty.
A look at the Youngstown Phantoms’ scratches for Saturday’s game against the Sioux Falls Stampede at the Covelli Centre suggests a secondary definition. Unavailable were: goaltender Sean Romeo, forwards Kyle Connor, Kiefer Sherwood and Alfred Larsson and defensemen Lukas Klok, Alex Carle and Fredric Larsson.
Using a lineup peppered with USHL newcomers wearing jerseys without names against the defending Western Conference champions, the spirited Phantoms stood toe-to-toe with the Stampede for two periods.
But the Stampede struck twice early in the third period for a 3-1 victory and weekend sweep.
“Tonight, we came knowing we needed to step up,” forward Tyler Spezia said, referring to Friday’s 6-1 loss. “But we took a couple of minutes off and it’s not the outcome that we wanted.”
Friday, Romeo was tripped with a stick, re-aggravating a groin injury that he’s been dealing with since late August. Colin DeAugustine, who finished Friday’s game, made his third start, losing for the first time.
DeAugustine (2-1-0) made 21 saves for the Phantoms (4-9-1, 9 points).
“Every game he has played, he has given us the opportunity to win,” said Phantoms coach Brad Patterson who is filling in as head coach while Anthony Noreen who is with Team USA in Nova Scotia. “That’s a huge bright spot on the weekend — Colin coming in cold [Friday] and us not playing well in front of him.
“And then tonight, giving us the opportunity to win the game.”
Seventy-six seconds into the third period, the Stampede (9-4-1, 19 points) took a 2-1 lead when Griffin Molino scored his first USHL goal with a shot over DeAugustine’s shoulder that hit the top of the net just inside the crossbar.
About two minutes later, Tony Calderone scored off a goal-mouth scramble.
‘Guys were a lot hungrier for pucks,” said forward Josh Nenadal of the difference in the two games.
Midway through the second period, the Stampede took a 1-0 lead when Joe Schuldt, perched to the side of the net, picked up a rebound off of DeAugustine and buried the puck into the net.
Seven minutes later, Nenadal tied the game when he skated to the puck at the top of the faceoff circle. The second-year Phantom then spun toward the goal and swung his stick, startling Stampede goaltender David Jacobson.
“The puck just came weird off the boards and [an opponent] was coming at me pretty hard so I knew I had to get it to the net as quickly as possible,” said Nenadal, describing it as a “half slap shot to the net.
“It took a lucky bounce and went through the 5 hole [between Jacobson’s legs].”
Patterson was pleased with the Phantoms’ effort.
“They battled extremely hard,” Patterson said. “[We’re] having a hard time putting the puck in behind their goalie. That’s a credit to him and the way they played in front of him.
“That’s an area we need to improve on — bearing down and putting pucks in.”
Spezia said the play of the youngsters “was phenomenal. They came here with a chip on their shoulders to prove they belong.
“I think they showed us that.”