Fighting Saints ride five-goal second to win over Phantoms - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Fighting Saints ride five-goal second to win over Phantoms

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DUBUQUE, Iowa - Returning to the Mystique Ice Center for the first time since last season's heartbreaking Eastern Conference Finals defeat, the Phantoms were hoping to exact a small ounce of revenge on the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Instead, it was Dubuque who emerged with the win, thanks in part to a five-goal second period that fueled a 7-3 final score in favor of the home team.

"[Dubuque] is an experienced team, they put a lot of pucks at the net, and our mental errors, probably in the first 40 minutes were capitalized on quite a bit," said Phantoms assistant coach Brad Patterson, who, along with Michael Zucker, shared bench duties in the wake of head coach Anthony Noreen's suspension following a game misconduct against Chicago last Saturday.

"We shored it up a bit in the third period, and rebounded, so we'll look to continue on that third period tomorrow night," Patterson added.

Through the game's first 40 minutes, Dubuque outscored Youngstown by a 6-1 margin. The Phantoms played a strong third, winning the final frame by a 2-1 count. According to captain Alfred Larsson, in that third period, Youngstown got back to playing their game, and it showed.

"We saw in the first 15 minutes of the game that if we play the way we should play, like chipping pucks deep and go hard on the forecheck, that we'll have success," said Larsson. "As soon as we got back to it in the third period, we talked about it in the second intermission, that if we play our style of hockey, I think we'll have success tomorrow."

Dubuque led 1-0 after the first period, and they scored the first two goals of the second to make it 3-0. The Phantoms pulled one back courtesy of Lukas Klok's first career USHL goal, but Dubuque ran three unanswered to take a 6-1 lead to the dressing rooms after two.

"We started the game really well in the first period," said Klok. "We played really good hockey. In the second period, it was worse. Our start was good again-for the first two minutes, we played good hockey, but after that, I don't know what happened. We talked about it in the locker room after the second period, and the third period was much better, but [seven] goals-it's bad for us. We scored two times [in the third], so hopefully we win tomorrow."

Understandably, Klok added that his first USHL goal was a special moment.

"It happened really fast. Kiefer Sherwood had a puck on the wall, he passed to the middle for [Josh] Melnick, and Melnick was under pressure, so he left me the puck. I just shot it, and I scored; it was a great feeling. It was unbelievable. I hope it wasn't my last goal of the season," laughed the Czech Republic native.

After two periods of play, with a rematch on tap for Saturday night, the Phantoms understood the value of finishing strong to build momentum and confidence.

"It's building on what we did in the third period," said Patterson, when asked what the team had to do in tomorrow's game. "We talked, as a group-coaches and players going into that third. The score, being what it was, we knew we'd have them again tomorrow night. We made a few adjustments, and looked at things that gave us success. We talked about it after the game, and those are things that we look to continue tomorrow night: shore up some mental mistakes, and I think we'll have a good game tomorrow."

Larsson, one of the Phantoms' veteran leaders, understands the value of having a strong presence during slides like this one as well, even dropping the gloves in the second period in an effort to tilt the ice back in his team's favor.

"I'm just trying to stay positive on the bench and the locker room, telling the guys to keep their heads up. Dropping the gloves, we were down 4-1 at the moment, and I felt the need to get a spark going. I just tried to get the team going by dropping the gloves."

The Phantoms' coaching staff appreciates the value of leaders like Larsson as well.

"Our leaders are guys who any coach would value and love to have as part of their team," said Patterson. "Our guys that have been through it, through thick and thin, are teaching our younger players. We see it rubbing off, and we look for the same-those are the guys who are leading the ship, and they will continue to do it. They do all the right things, say all the right things, and it's an asset for our club."

Larsson believes that the Phantoms can build on the third period tonight to put together a better overall performance tomorrow.

"Even though we have been pretty low lately, over the last 10 days we've had pretty good practices," he said. "I think we'll find a good way to play, by chipping pucks deep and stuff, and I think we will have pretty good success in the upcoming games."

Phantoms by the Numbers

Shots - 17

Saves - 23

Power Play - 0/3

Penalty Kill - 3/5

Goals - Klok (1), Connor (17), Spezia (7)

Assists - Melnick (12), Sherwood (14), Pellah (17), Piccinich (17), Evancho (4)

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