Phantoms stumble in Noreen’s return
By Tom Williams
Once again, an Anthony Noreen-coached hockey team dominated on Covelli Centre ice.
This time, the hometown fans weren’t as thrilled.
The Tri-City Storm scored three goals in the second period of Friday’s 5-1 victory over the Youngstown Phantoms. It was the first time that Noreen coached a game from the visitors’ bench in Youngstown.
Noreen was the Phantoms head coach from 2011-15, guiding them to three USHL playoff appearances and 126 regular-season wins. After coaching the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears for one season and 11 games of another, Noreen is back coaching junior hockey in the USHL.
Noreen said there were moments where he had to stop and think where he was going in the building he called home for five seasons.
“Walking off the ice at the end of periods,” the first-year Tri-City head coach said of finding the visitors’ lockerroom. “That was it.”
His homecoming, Noreen said, “has been tough in a lot of ways. It’s the strangest situation I’ve felt in hockey.
“The biggest thing I tried to keep in mind is that it’s about [my players],” Noreen said.
The Phantoms (14-13-3-1, 32 points) suffered their eighth loss in the past 10 games.
Phantoms head coach Brad Patterson felt his players were consistent, but added there a couple of facets “that have to get better.
“I didn’t we feel we gave up a ton of Grade A [scoring chances]. It was those secondary chances that really killed us.”
The bright spot for the Phantoms was Michael Regush’s goal in the first period set up by Chase Gresock and defenseman Steve Holtz. Regush and Gresock extended their point-scoring streaks to six games.
Patterson said he felt Regush’s line with Gresock and Matthew Barry did well.
“Every time they were on the ice, they drove the play,” said Patterson, who was Noreen’s assistant coach all four seasons here. “Consistently, they had good chances.
“But we can’t rely on one line.”
The Storm dominated the second period.
“We looked a little weary in the first,” Noreen said. “A big credit was to [the Phantoms]. I knew they were going to come out and play physical, hard. Brad’s done a good job keeping this probably the toughest place to play in the league.”
Johnny McDermott scored the Storm’s other two goals in the middle period. The first one came after Noreen used his timeout.
“You’d like to say it was good coaching,” said Noreen with a laugh, explaining that two consecutive icings by his players forced him to call it. “Total coincidence. Our guys were tired and they had their top line out there.”
With 7:35 remaining, Sam Hentges scored on Phantoms goaltender Ivan Prosvetov for a 4-1 lead. An empty-net goal sealed the victory.
For most of the game, the Phantoms were without defenseman Jake Gingell, who was ejected in the first period after a five-minute crosschecking penalty.
The Phantoms had dressed six defensemen so assistant coach Jeff Potter was in charge of rotating them.
“We tried to keep guys as fresh as [we could],” Patterson said, adding that left the team with four right shots and one on left. “Guys just kind of rotated through on the left side for 10-15 minutes, then we’d move them over to the right side. It’s tough to lose a guy like [Gingell], but it happens.”
Prosvetov (8-6-2-0) stopped 20 shots. Stars goalie Jake Barczewski made 27 saves.
“We had numerous chances that didn’t [find] the back of the net,” Patterson said. “It’s tough to stomach.”