Sluggish start dooms Phantoms in game 1 vs. Gamblers - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Youngstown Phantoms Press Release

Sluggish start dooms Phantoms in game 1 vs. Gamblers

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GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Youngstown Phantoms hit a lull midway through the opening period and it was enough for the Green Bay Gamblers to pry away the win Wednesday night. The Gamblers notched three goals over the final 12 minutes of the period and turned to goaltender Tony Kujava to secure a 3-1 win and take Game 1 of the best-of-five opening round series.

Right wing John Padulo scored the lone goal for the Phantoms, who outshot the Gamblers 23-12 over the final two periods and 28-25 on the whole. Youngstown goaltender Sean Romeo turned away 22 of 25 but was outduelled by Kujava, who finished with 27 saves.

"For probably 50 minutes tonight we did a good job executing and for 10 minutes we didn't and that's not good enough to win a playoff hockey game," head coach Anthony Noreen said. "We need to execute for 60 minutes."

Kevin Irwin put Green Bay in front eight minutes in off an odd-man rush. The Hinckley, Ohio, native carried the puck inside into the zone and then cut to the high slot and fired a wrist shot through a screen and past Romeo. Nicholas Schilkey made it 2-0 at the 14:17 mark, scoring on a tap-in off a give-and-go play with Alex Kile.

Irwin notched his second of the night on a power play with just 34 seconds remaining in the period, when he was left unattended at the doorstep and stuffed in a feed from Kyle Novak.

"I liked our first few minutes," Noreen said. ". It took us a period to adjust to their trap and once we did, I thought we did a good job from there. We were physical. We were aggressive. We did everything except put the puck in the net."

Padulo, a five-year junior hockey veteran playing in his first career playoff game, got Youngstown on the score sheet at the 8:26 mark in the second. The Rochester, N.Y. native, forced a turnover and then parked in front of the net as Eric Sweetman gathered the loose puck and fed Kyle Connor's one-timer at the right circle. The 16-year-old Connor's blast ricocheted of Padulo's skate and past Kujava.

"It was a great play by Padulo on the forecheck hitting the guy and Sweetman ended up with the puck and made a good look to me," Connor said. "I just shot the puck."

Youngstown ran into a scare in the final minutes of the period when Green Bay's Tanner Pond drove Austin Cangelosi face-first into the boards with an elbow to the back of the head. The Phantoms captain and leading scorer lie on the ice motionless before being helped up and escorted off the ice. He went on return in the third, but the play went unpenalized.

Meanwhile Phantoms continued to pepper Kujava to the tune of 11 shots to four in the final period, but could not find a way to solve the Green Bay-born goaltender.

"I thought he was excellent in there. He made the saves he needed to and didn't give up any rebounds," Noreen said. "That was probably one of the best goaltending performances we've seen all year."

Phantoms by the Numbers

Shots - 28

Saves - 22

Power Play - 0-for-2

Penalty Kill - 2-for-3

Goals - Padulo

Assists - Connor, Sweetman

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