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Youngstown Phantoms Press Release

Lumberjacks slip past Phantoms with last-second goal

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MUSKEGON, Mich. - The Youngstown Phantoms appeared poised to push ahead in the dying second of the third period Saturday night when an odd bounce led to an odd-man rush for the Muskegon Lumberjacks. 'Jacks forward Matt Mendleson fired a fluttering wrist shot that managed to evade Phantoms goaltender Colin DeAugustine and give Muskegon a 4-3 lead - its first and only of the game - with 14 seconds in regulation.

Kiefer Sherwood, Kyle Connor and Tyler Spezia all scored for the Phantoms (6-11-1, 13 points) who got stuck with the hard-luck split, dropping the second of a two-game set with the Lumberjacks (9-7-3, 21 points) despite out-shooting them 36-34.

"We're very happy with the way we played. I thought we out-chanced them and without a doubt we deserved better," head coach Anthony Noreen said. "It's probably the third of fourth time this year that's happened . It wasn't Colin's fault. [Mendleson] took a good shot, but after all the chances we had, it's tough to lose a game like that."

Spezia gave the Phantoms a 3-2 edge with less than five minutes remaining in the second period when notched a short-handed goal. The Lumberjacks elected to send five forwards out on the man-advantage and the savvy forward poked a puck free and went in on a breakaway against goaltender Eric Schierhorn.

"I knew it was a forward out there and maybe his footwork wasn't the best at the blue line so you try to take and advantage and make him make a play," Spezia said. "I put pressure on him and knocked it by and had a full-ice breakaway. Then I saw [Schierhorn's] low blocker open so I fired it."

The goal was Spezia's second of the season and Youngstown's first of the short-handed variety.

But Muskegon made the most of its next power play and tied the game for a third time 4:16 into the third period. Defenseman Adam Larkin threw a low-lying wrist shot on DeAugustine and the rebound came out for Christopher Dodero on the doorstep and he elevated the puck to even it up at 3-3.

"I really liked our penalty kill tonight," Noreen said. "The one goal they score, plain and simple, the guy whose responsibility it was got picked. There was really nothing he could've done about it and that was one of their few grade-A chances."

Youngstown peppered Schierhorn with a total of 15 shots in the third period but the 17-year-old netminder was a brick wall, and came up with flashy glove saves on Connor and Josh Melnick over the final frame. Then Maxim Letunov, who was coming off a hat trick the night before, had a chance to put Youngstown in front on a power play past the midway point of the period, but his wrist shot rang off the right post.

"We were all over them," Noreen said. "We had a ton of chances, hit posts and their goaltender made some unbelievable saves.

"Without a doubt that was the best goaltending performance we've seen all year."

The Phantoms opened the scoring less that six minutes into the opening period. After killing off a penalty Kyle Mackey corralled a puck in his own end and hit Sherwood streaking out of the box. Sherwood blew past a pair of Lumberjacks, fended off a back-checker and slid a backhand past Shierhorn for his third goal of the season and third point in the past two games.

The Lumberjacks tied it up less than five minutes later after a turnover at center ice led to a 3-on-1 against Youngstown. Dodero found Mendleson on the backdoor to even it up for with his first goal of the night.

Connor put the Phantoms in front 2-1 before the five-minute mark of the second. Ryan Schwalbe handed it off the slick-skating 16-year-old at the right wall and he deftly maneuvered his way to the slot and wristed a shot past Schierhorn for his seventh of the season. But the lead was short-lived as Matt Iacopelli gathered a puck off a face off, walked across the crease and slotted it past DeAugustine to knot it up at 2-2 at the 5:53 mark.

Despite the disappointing result, Noreen was encouraged by the effort his team put together over the weekend split with their rival.

"We need to keep playing the way we did this weekend and build off it and get better," Noreen said. "I still think we're heading in the right direction."

Phantoms by the Numbers

Shots - 36

Saves - 31

Power Play - 0-for-4

Penalty Kill - 3-for-4

Goals - Sherwood (3), Connor (7), Spezia (2)

Assists - Mackey (3), Schwalbe (5)

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