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Youngstown Phantoms Press Release

Phantoms Close In On 3rd Place With 4-1 Win Over Muskegon

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MUSKEGON, Michigan – Short-handed and playing their third road game in as many day the Youngstown Phantoms put on one of their best performances of the season, downing Muskegon Lumberjacks 4-1 Saturday night.

The win was the third win in a row for the Phantoms (31-21-0, 62 points), bringing them within four points of the Lumberjacks (28-19-10, 66 points) for third place in the United States Hockey League Eastern Conference, despite playing five fewer games.

Early-season trade acquisition Cam Brown racked up a career-high three points (one goal, two assists), while captain Austin Cangelosi scored his third goal in as many games to lead the way for Youngstown. Sam Anas also found the back of the net for a team-leading 28th time and Luke Stork picked up his 11th goal of the season as the Phantoms closed out the season series with a decisive 6-2-0 edge over the Lumberjacks.

Sean Romeo got the start in net for the third straight night, and 17th time in the last 18 games, but showed no signs of fatigue turning away 34 shots, including 20 in the third period, to pick up his 26th win of the season.

With both right wing John Padulo and defenseman Jimmy Mazza unavailable serving one-game suspensions stemming from Friday's chaotic win over Chicago, and right wing Josh Nenadal and defenseman Kale Bennett back home nursing injuries, Youngstown was forced to dress just 17 skaters, but did not miss a beat.

"It was the best game of the trip – hands down," head coach Anthony Noreen said. "Execution was great and energy was awesome. Of all the great efforts we've had, I don't know if I've been this proud to be a part of this team all year long."

Both teams opened the game playing close to the vest, with few quality scoring chances generated at either end. But with a little more than a minute remaining in the first period the Phantoms were whistled for icing after a long shift.

Muskegon won the ensuing draw and got a quick shot on Romeo, but the rebound rimmed around the boards and was played out into space by Brown. Nathan Walker charged into it with speed, blowing past the flat-footed defenseman at the blue line, and Anas joined the rush to make it a 2-on-1. As they approached the goal, Walker crisply threaded a pass across to Anas and the Potomac, Md., native flicked a backhander over the shoulder of goaltender Kevin Lindskoug to put the Phantoms in front with just 52 seconds remaining in the period.

Stork had a golden opportunity to pad the lead on an odd-man rush early in the second but was denied by an incredible save from Lindskoug, and the Lumberjacks quickly gathered up the rebound and headed up the ice with numbers. Zach Saar got an initial shot off on Romeo, who turned him away, but Jeff Kubiak crashed the net and put in the loose puck to knot the game up at the 2:34 mark.

"Usually that's a momentum-changing play in the game," Noreen said. "But I thought our energy level picked up from there."

The Phantoms went on to outshoot the ‘Jacks 12-4 in the second and Brown put them back in front at the 11:38 mark. Ryan Lowney corralled a puck at the blue line and launched a seeing-eye wrist shot that the Maine recruit tipped in mid-air for his 11th goal of the season and second point of the night.

Youngstown opened the final period on the man-advantage thanks to a penalty from Christian Heil late in the second that spilled over. They capitalized with just two seconds remaining on the power play when Walker put a puck right in Cangelosi's wheelhouse, and the captain hammered it home for his seventh point of the three-game road swing.

"Special teams were the story of the game – the whole trip really," Noreen said. "To grab that goal right away and make it a three-goal game, that was huge. Austin was what we expect him to be. He was the best player on the ice for us tonight, and the entire trip."

Less than a minute later, Youngstown stretched the lead to 4-1. Brown tried to slide a pass into the slot, but the puck hit a defender's leg. Fortunately, it ricocheted right in front of a streaking Stork and the Ohio State commit blasted it past an out-of-position Lindskoug.

"Luke got absolutely robbed in the second period and they come down and score," Noreen said. "But when you do things the right way, you get rewarded. Luke was where he was supposed to be and the puck wound up on his stick."

The Lumberjacks turned up the heat in the remaining 18 minutes but Romeo was up to task on each occasion to clinch the win.

Phantoms by the Numbers

Shots – 25

Saves – 34

Power Play – 1-for-3

Penalty Kill – 3-for-3

Goals – Anas, Brown, Cangelosi, Stork

Assists – Anas, Brown (2), Connor, Lowney, Walker (2)

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