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Youngstown Phantoms Press Release

Phantoms can't cash in against Gamblers, fall 3-1

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GREEN BAY, Wisconsin – The Youngstown Phantoms grabbed the lead early Saturday night and dominated play until the final buzzer, but came away with nothing to show for it. The Green Bay Gamblers knotted the game up late in the first period, took the lead on a second-period power play and hung on for dear life until Jimmy Irwin's empty-net goal with 24 seconds remaining to snatch a 3-1 win and weekend sweep of Youngstown.

Alexander Dahl scored his third of the season for the Phantoms (5-9-0, 10 points) to match his 2011-12 total, while goaltender Patrick Spano turned away 21 of 23 shots thrown his way. But his opponent Michael Rotolo stopped all but one of the 39 shots he faced to hold Phantoms to less than two goals for the eighth time in their last 10 outings.

After the loss, head coach Anthony Noreen expressed dismay at his team's inability to build on its first-period lead and salvage a weekend split against the Gamblers (4-7-2, 10 points).

"We absolutely, 100 percent should've found a way to win that game," he said. "We generated enough chances. We just didn't put the puck in the back of the net."

Dahl put the Phantoms in front on the game's first shift. The co-captain poked the puck free at his own blue line and Josh Nenadal took it the other way with speed. The newly-acquired winger fed it back to Dahl in the slot, who only made partial contact with the one-timer, but the puck trickled through Rotolo's legs to give Youngstown the 1-0 lead 26 seconds into the action.

The Gamblers were able to tie it up just past the midway point of the first after Kiefer Sherwood's shot went off the knob of Rotolo's stick leading to a Green Bay counter attack. Gamblers winger Grigory Dikushin danced through Youngstown's defensive zone and put a shot low on Spano to make it 1-1.

Green Bay grabbed the lead on a power play three minutes into the second period when Ryan Siroky pounced on a rebound just outside the Phantoms' crease. Todd Koritzinsky nearly knotted it back up for the Phantoms later in the second when he picked the puck up off the ice with his stick from behind the net and tried to put it up high on Rotolo, but he was unable to finish the highlight-reel play.

Koritzinksy had another opportunity to even things up with nine minutes remaining in the third and the puck on his stick at the right dot, but his wrist shot glanced off Gamblers' defenseman Brandon Kirk and sailed right into Rotolo's glove. Ryan Lowney tried to put the team on his back later in the period with an electrifying end-to-end rush, but his shot was snatched out of the air and frozen.

The Phantoms continued to press in the final minute with Spano pulled for the extra attacker, but Irwin was able break up a pass at the blue line and float the puck all the way down the ice and into the open net to secure the win.

Despite the lackluster results from the weekend, Noreen said he was encouraged by the progress he saw from his team with leading scorers Austin Cangelosi and JT Stenglein away at the World Junior A Challenge and three defensemen – Dan Renouf, Kyle Mackey and Jimmy Mazza – sidelined Saturday.

"A lot of individual players have been making progress at individual times," Noreen said. "As a team we need a find away to where we're all making steps together in the right direction, and we don't revert back."

Shots – 39

Saves – 21

Power Play – 0-for-4

Penalty Kill – 2-for-3

Goals – Dahl

Assists – Nenadal

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