Piccinich Stays Hot But 'Riders Douse Phantoms 4-3 - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Youngstown Phantoms Press Release

Piccinich Stays Hot But 'Riders Douse Phantoms 4-3

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - JJ Piccinich scored twice to remain red-hot, but the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders were able to douse any comeback hopes for the Youngstown Phantoms Friday night. Piccinich pulled the Phantoms even in the third and Alfred Larsson had the chance to put them ahead with a late breakaway, but his attempt whistled wide and Andrew Poturalski went on to score with just 1:14 remaining to steal away 4-3 win for Cedar Rapids.

Russian rookie Maxim Letunov had the lone other goal and added an assist for the Phantoms (1-3-1, 3 points) while second-year forward Kyle Connor figured in on all of Youngstown's scoring with a trio of assists. In net, Jake Moore was steady with starter Sean Romeo still sidelined with a nagging injury, turning away 29-of-33 shots in the loss.

"That's kind of the way things are going for us right now," Head coach Anthony Noreen said. "As long as we build from it and learn from it, we'll be OK."

The Phantoms and RoughRiders (2-1-0, 4 points) entered the third tied 2-2 but that changed with one bad-luck bounce. Cedar Rapids defenseman Nathan Wideman skated the puck in behind the net and tried a wraparound, but Moore was able to cover his post and get a piece of the puck. However, the shot deflected off the backside of his stick and redirected into the far post to put the 'Riders up 3-2.

Piccinich tied it up with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation after a terrific individual effort from Connor. The Michigan recruit drove wide down the right side, banked a pass to himself along the wall then circled behind the net and found Piccinich parked just outside the crease for his second goal of the night.

Larsson had a chance to put the Phantoms in front for the first time with less than two minutes remaining when he picked a pocket at his blue line and went in alone on a breakaway. However, his shot sailed just inches wide of goaltender Chris Birdsall and Cedar Rapids gathered the puck up, rushed down the ice and Poturalski beat Moore with a wrist shot from the right circle.

"Of course you can't give up goals that late, but I don't think it was a lapse or mental error by anybody," Noreen said. "The bottom line is you can't give up a goal on a 2-on-2 rush. We get a breakaway one way . and it looks like we're going to be winning the game and 20 seconds later the puck's in the back of our net."

The RoughRiders opened the scoring on a power play 14:05 mark into the first when Andre Oglevie was able to snatch the rebound and put it up top on Moore. Jason Kalinowski gave Cedar Rapids a 2-0 lead 2:25 into the second when snuck behind the defense and got a shot off on a breakaway. Moore made the initial save but was bowled over and the puck slipped out of his grasp and behind the goal line.

However, the Phantoms found themselves on a power play three minutes later and Piccinich struck. Connor walked out of the right corner and tried to stuff it in but the puck shot out to the far post and Boston University commit came crashing in and hammered it home for his league-leading fourth power-play goal.

"That just shows his maturity and how much he's grown," Noreen said of Piccinich, who scored just three goals in 63 games for Youngstown last season.

"Both of those were goal-scorer's goals. He doesn't over-handle the puck. He puts it on net and gets it there before the goalie is able to set. That's what goal-scorers do. It's not always the placement or how hard you shoot it."

Youngstown would tie it up at 2-2 less than 10 minutes later. Connor corralled a bouncing puck and led an odd-man rush up the ice, but couldn't get a clean shot off. Instead he slid it to Ryan Schwalbe at the far side, who unselfishly dropped it for Letunov and the 17-year-old from Moscow slotted it in to make it 2-2 heading into the intermission.

Phantoms by the Numbers

Shots - 19

Saves - 29

Power Play - 1-for-4

Penalty Kill - 4-for-5

Goals - Letunov, Piccinich (2)

Assists - Connor (3), Letunov, Schwalbe, Tyler Spezia

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