For most of the evening, the Phantoms looked to be a much improved team who had shaken off the previous weekends poor performance. The defense only allowed 25 shots in over 63 minutes on backup goalie Jake Moore, who's turned into the starter in the absence of Sean Romeo. The offense looked hungry too. It seemed opening night was shaping up well and, all things considered, it was still the best game of the season for the Youngstown team. It still wasn't good enough to earn two points in the standings as a couple of costly mistakes kept the Green Bay Gamblers in it during regulation.
The Phantoms started well, JJ Pichinich scored early on a power play. Less than four minutes into the tilt and with a Gambler in the box, Josh Melnick fed the puck to the second year forward and Pichinich elevated the shot, hitting the bottom of the crossbar and in. I had just sat down in my seat after some issues with the box office and was scrambling to find my rally towel. Later in the period however, the Phantoms got into a little trouble shorthanded by two and the Gamblers were able to tie it up.
The second period gave us the first costly error. Defenseman Alex Carle made a weak outlet pass right inside his own blue line and Green Bay's Ryan Lough fed Drew Best on a 2-on-1 to take the lead. Youngstown's Luke Stork tied it up early in the third with the Phantoms second power play of the evening. Later in the frame the Phantoms went up a goal on an incredible move by rookie Maxim Letunov. The young native of Moscow Russia took a to the left of the Green Bay goal. He made a little hesitation move as if he was going to take the puck to the net or shoot on his forehand but instead dodged behind the net and wrapped it around and inside the unguarded post.
This wasn't do svidaniya for the Gamblers though. With less than two minutes in the game, veteran forward Kevin Irwin (no relation) was pressuring Youngstown's Tyler Spezia just in front of Moore's cage. The official report intimated that Irwin forced a turnover and beat Moore. This wasn't how I saw it and the replay seemed to show Spezia putting the puck behind his own goalie. I'm not sure if this was a miss-communication or if Spezia just lost track of where he was but this tied it up and sent us to OT. Then in the extra period, a little bit of a bad bounce put the puck on the stick of Green Bay veteran Nick Shcmaltz. Moore went for a poke check, probably his only bad play of the game, as Shcmaltz put the puck up and over to win the game.
There was so much positive last night it just seems such a shame a couple little errors put us on the losing side. We did get a point in the standings. The offense looked strong and the defense certainly held together better. The biggest improvement was the play of Jake Moore. There were a few scrambling moments where it looked like he was going to give up a goal but somehow managed to make a save or at least make the shooter miss. Last nights backup was Bobby Palzer who played last season with the Philadelphia Revolution in the EJHL. It's another quick turnaround game today, I'll be really interested to see how Moore handles himself today.