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Youngstown Phantoms Press Release

Phantoms cash out of fall classic with 4-1 win over Gamblers

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Youngstown Phantoms closed out the 2012 USHL Fall Classic against the team that ended their 2011-12 season – the Green Bay Gamblers. Tied 1-1 heading into the final five minutes, the exhibition had the air of a playoff game, too, but the end result was in stark contrast.

With 4:16 remaining, first-year winger JJ Piccinich put the Phantoms ahead for the first time at Tyson Events Center, stretching his stick out on the backhand to redirect a point-shot five hole on Green Bay netminder Cam Hackett. Then 15 seconds later, with the Gamblers still reeling, Sam Anas led a quick counter attack and hit Austin Cangelosi on the backdoor for an easy put away, and after and empty-net goal from Eric Sweetman, the Phantoms came away with a 4-1 win.

"We were tied for two periods today and it was good to see how our guys responded to that," head coach Anthony Noreen said. "We gave a lot of guys some opportunities that they hadn't had in this league before. I thought was a good experience."

Markus McCrea also scored for Youngstown, which finished the Fall Classic a 2-1 record and the preseason 3-2-0. Patrick Spano followed up Sean Romeo's stellar performance Friday night with an outstanding showing between the pipes Saturday morning, turning away 16 of 17 shots in the win.

Matt Weis put Green Bay in front on the first shot of the game when he rang the puck off the crossbar and down past Spano just 1:10 in. McCrea, who played in his first game for the Phantoms on Friday, knotted things up at the 14:29 mark. Alfred Larsson forced a turnover and hit McCrea along the left-wing wall and the brawny winger beat Hackett with a low wrist shot.

"From what we saw in two games [McCrea] plays our game to a tee," Noreen said. "He's not afraid to mix it up and get his nose dirty. It's always good to see guys like that get rewarded with a goal."

Brendan Lemieux had a chance to give the Gamblers the lead early in the third period when he found himself on a breakaway, but Spano stoned him with a kick save on the initial shot and the rebound. Piccinich cashed in a little more than 10 minutes later, a USHL first for the 16-year-old.

"It was a pretty unbelievable feeling," he said. "I'm just glad we got the win and I could help the team out."

Anas and Cangelosi struck again moments after the puck drop to give the Phantoms the two-goal lead that was more than enough to hold onto.

"One of the most important shifts you're going to play in a game is after you score a goal or give up a goal – how you respond," Noreen said. "We went with a veteran line and Sammy and Cange went out and did their job."

Phantoms by the Numbers

Shots – 23

Saves – 16

Power Play – 0-for-8

Penalty Kill – 4-for-4

Goals – Cangelsoi, McCrea, Piccinich, Sweetman

Assists – Anas, Bennett, Larsson, MacSorley, Spano

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