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Youngstown Phantoms Press Release

Rutledge leads Gamblers past Phantoms

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GREEN BAY, Wisconsin - Playing the night after his team scored a season-high seven goals, coach Anthony Noreen thought that the Phantoms generated as many quality chances in the rematch against Green Bay, if not more.

Unfortunately for Youngstown, the Gamblers' goaltending underwent a complete reversal from Friday night's contest.

Backed by netminder Jared Rutledge's 26-save shutout, Green Bay defeated the Phantoms by a 3-0 final on Saturday night, earning a series split at the Resch Center.

"I thought the difference was that their goaltender played tremendously," said Noreen. "He made some big saves. We had chances, and we just didn't put them away. It seemed like we had trouble elevating the puck on [Rutledge]. I think we had three or four breakaways, a couple of backdoors, and we just didn't get the puck upstairs and into the scoring area.

"I don't think we played poorly by any means. I think they played better tonight than they did last night. It was a hard fought game all the way to the end."

Last night's first period featured five goals between the two sides. Tonight's contest started a bit more slowly, as the game was 0-0 after 20 minutes of play. In fact, there were four power play goals scored in Friday night's opening frame. Tonight only featured one combined power play in the first period-a Zach Evancho minor that the Phantoms killed off-and as the game progressed, the feeling that the first goal would make a major difference started to loom.

"That's any hockey game, especially the later you get in a game," remarked Noreen on the importance of that first goal. "The chances started to come less and less down the stretch, especially once we got into the second and third. You felt like it was probably going to be a special teams goal."

Indeed, Green Bay's power play struck for the opening tally in the second period, as a point shot deflected off of a Phantom defenseman in front and past Sean Romeo. Just over one minute later, with the Phantoms on a power play of their own, a tough Gambler forecheck forced a turnover and ignited a shorthanded goal, making it 2-0 in quick succession.

"If anything, it woke us up," said Noreen, when asked if the consecutive goals stunned his team. "I didn't think we were really sleepy at that point, but I thought it got us going. From that point on, it was probably the best hockey that we've played at any point this weekend. We played very well over the last five or six minutes of the second, and I thought we were really good in the third as well."

In the third, the Phantoms still could not solve Rutledge, and Green Bay would tack on an empty netter to seal a 3-0 win. The defeat disrupted a chance for the Phantoms to compile their first three-game winning streak of the season.

"We needed to come out and find a way to win tonight, and we just didn't," said Noreen. "That's the next step. We've been able to put together one game, or two games-good teams put together longer streaks than that. Maybe every 15 or so games, you have an off night. I don't think tonight was necessarily an off night, but we can't afford to lose games at this point. We need to be more consistent, and we need to be better."

The Phantoms will now drive 200 miles south to face Chicago on Sunday afternoon, and Noreen thinks his team should be confident and ready to play.

"[The Gamblers] are as skilled as any in the league, and we played six great periods with them. We were neck-and-neck with them the whole way, so I think we should be confident going into Chicago tomorrow. It's a building we've always played well in, and it's a building where we let one slip away the last time we were there. We should have every bit of an edge to us, and we should go in there and expect to win."

Phantoms by the Numbers

Shots - 26

Saves - 25

Power Play - 0/5

Penalty Kill - 3/4

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