The Youngstown Phantoms have a new single-season goals leader, but there was no celebrating in the locker after the game Saturday. Right wing Sam Anas scored his record-breaking 32nd goal of the season to put Youngstown up 2-1 in the second period, but the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders followed with four unanswered – including an empty-netter – over the final 24 minutes to come away with a 5-2 win.
First-year forward Kyle Connor also found the back of the net and center Austin Cangelosi recorded a pair of assists as Phantoms (33-25-0, 66 points) outshot and outhit the RoughRiders (24-29-7, 55 points). Goaltender Sean Romeo surrendered four goals on 18 shots as the playoff-bound Youngstown (33-25-0, 66 points) let the game slip away against the sixth-place Cedar Rapids for the second night in a row.
“Our energy was good. We played hard, we were physical – we played our style of hockey,” head coach Anthony Noreen said. “It was our type of game, but we didn’t get the result. That’s hockey. It’s going to happen. Their goaltender played great and they were opportunistic when we made mistakes.”
After a scoreless first period, Bryson Cianfrone put Cedar Rapids in front 1:53 into the second when he beat Romeo with a wrist shot from the slot. Connor tied the game up less than three minutes later when he waltzed into the offensive zone and tucked a backhand just inside the near post, along the ice on RoughRiders goaltender Chris Birdsall, who finished the night with 24 saves.
Anas notched No. 32 on the power play at the 9:49 mark to put the Phantoms in front. The Potomac, Md., native was stationed at the point but saw an opening outside the goalmouth in the waning seconds of the man-advantage and came crashing in. John Padulo caught him out of the corner of his eye and kicked the puck out from behind the back, and with his feet taken out from under him, Anas slotted a wrist shot between Birdsall’s legs to surpass former teammate JT Stenglein for the single-season high mark.
“It was definitely a proud moment for me,” Anas said. “I played with JT last year and he’s still a friend of mine. It’s pretty cool to break the record, knowing all the guys who’ve played here.”
Cangelosi had an opportunity to put the Phantoms up two goals on a mini-breakaway later in the second, but appeared be caught with a high stick from a back-checking RoughRider that sent his head whipping back and his shot just wide of the post. The Boston College commit would have another opportunity late in the third as the Phantoms pressed to tie with their net empty, but he was tripped from behind with the puck on his stick an open look on the doorstep. Neither play was penalized as both teams combined for just three power plays on the evening – none over the final 30 minutes.
Cedar Rapids knotted the game up with 3:52 remaining in the second period when Gerald Mayhew put a rebound past Romeo with the Phantoms out-manned down low. Corey Petrash put them in front 3-2 just two minutes into the third off an odd-man rush. Davey Middleton gave them a two-goal cushion at the 11:23 mark and Mayhew added an empty-netter to seal the win with just 1:13 remaining.
“It’s definitely a tough one to swallow because we feel like deserved to win that game, as opposed to last night where maybe they outplayed us,” Anas said. “Tonight, maybe they stole that one from us.
“We outplayed them and had more energy. We were the better team tonight.”
Phantoms by the Numbers
Shots – 26
Saves – 14
Power Play – 1-for-2
Penalty Kill – 1-for-1
Goals – Anas, Connor
Assists – Cangelosi (2), Padulo, Eric Sweetman
Next on the Slate
After a brief home stand, the Phantoms are on the road for their next four games. The six-day road swing kicks off next Friday when they take on Team USA in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Courtesy: Youngstown Phantoms