Sorry for the lack of a timely Frday recap, I'm just going to combine the two games. I don't like to do this but my time has been limited lately and frankly, I was too disappointed Yesterday to write the Frday recap. Yep, the Phantoms went .500 again and this took control of their own playoff destiny out of their hands and now we need some help from either Madison or Bloomington to continue the season past next weekend.

Friday's game started out good. The Phantoms came out with a lot of energy and looked to be ready to play. That probably lasted about 5 minutes before we settled into a much more lax routine. Lincoln would get a powerplay and at 13:08 Christian Evers would put a shoit low glove side on Ivan Kulbakov that would sneak in just inside the post for a 1-0 lead. With 041 left in the second, Alex Esposito would get a poweplay goal of his own off a great feed from Evan Wiscocky. Lincolns netminder, Josef Korenar, would make a great initial save but Esposito would shovel home a rebound over the sprawling netminder.

The tie would not last long, a failed clearing attempt put the puck on the stick of Carter Long, who took a shot from outside the right faceoff circle. What should have been an easy save for Kulbakov tipped off some piece of his equipment and in the net at 2:46 of the third. Just 0:31 later, Chayse Priemeu would circle from behind Kulbakov's net and try backhanded wraparound that Kulbakov made the save on but Primeau would continue to stab at until it went in. Brandon Schultz would add the empty net to seal it. The effort just wan't there, pretty much everyone in the building commented on it heading out to the parking lot.

The Phantoms needed a win against Green Bay to keep on the right track heading towards the playoffs. After a tough loss to Muskegon last Saturday it was not only imperative that they not lose any more ground in the standings but I think the team, as well as a few individual players, needed to prove they could bounce back after such a big loss. The Gamblers came into Youngstown just trying to keep their playoff hopes alive. With the number of games remaining on the season dwindling, a weekend pair of head-to-head match-up games might be the last chance they get to catch up.

Things got off to a quick start for Green Bay. After the Phantoms won a faceoff just outside the their defensive zone, Alec Mahalak bobbled the puck a little in the high slot area. The Gamblers John Leonard jumped on the oppertunity, stripped Mahalak of the puck. Ivan Kulbakov made an initial save but Leonard got his own rebound and shoveled a backhand hot over the sprawled Phantoms netminder just 1:05 into the game. One of the Phantoms who needed a big game after last week was Kulbakov. After giving up 3 goals on 10 shots and getting pulled last weekend, this would be a big test of the netminders resiliency. I'll be honest, I was a little worried. The Phantoms would push back and not long after Pierce Crawford would pull up just inside the attack zone and fire a wrister from the top of the right faceoff circle that eluded Gamblers goaltender David Hrenak, time of the goal 6:18. Neither team would get much advantage in the period after that and the shots were 9-7 in favor of the Phantoms into intermission.

The deadlock continued in the second period until the the Phantoms took the puck from their own end in a transition rush up ice. Coale Norris carried the puck into the Gamblers zone with Pierce Crawford flanking him. Green Bay managed to defend them but did not pick up a trailing Evan Wisocky as Norris manage to look off Crawford and hit Wisocky with a pass for the go ahead goal at 9:10 of the second. Again, neither team really looked to have a dominant edge in the period, shots were 9 a piece but the Phantoms took the 1 goal lead into the third frame.

Anytime you beat a division rival is a big win, but when it's late in the season and your trailing that team by a half game in the standings it's even bigger. And when you do it in a shutout despite being outshot and giving them a few big powerplay chances... we'll I'm still looking for the word to describe how big it is. It's hard to quantify just how much last nights 3-0 win over the Muskegon Lumberjacks really is.

The Phantoms would start off playing a little behind the 'Jacks, momentum favoring Mukegon early on. Just as the Phantoms seemed to get things going their way they found themselves in a lot of trouble. Austin Pooley would take a questionable checking from behind call as 12:55. Pierce Crawford would go off at 13:47 for hooking Andrei Svenchnikov who was skating dangerously straight down the slot with the puck. I don't think the 'Jacks got a puck on Ivan Kulbakov in the 1:08 of 5-on-3 powerplay and the Phantoms managed a big kill late in the period. A few moments after the PK expired, Keegan Howdeshell would make a pass from the left faceoff circle to the slot for Koby Bender who stepped to his left and put a backhand towards what looked like an open net. Kulbakov dove from his left to his right and somehow kept the puck out. Despite being outshot 12-4 in the period the Phantoms had to feel good about a scoreless tie going into the first intermission.

The second period would be a more even frame. Neither team really getting much of an advantage until late. The 'Jacks would lose track of Chase Gresock in the neutral zone as Tommy Apap dug the puck out of a couple Muskegon defenders just inside the Muskegon zone. Apap would hit Gresock who was all alone entering the zone and skated it all the way down the right side of the slot. 'Jacks netminder Adam Brizgala came out of the crease to challange him by Gresock waited him out until Brizgala made a move, an attempt to smother the puck as Gresock skated. The Phantoms forward got around the goaltender and flipped a puck at the empty net which may have been knocked in by a 'Jacks defenseman at 16:17. On the shift just after the first goal, former Phantoms defenseman Ty Farmer would put a pass from his zone into the neutral zone that was intercepted by Alex Esposito who charge in and got s shot off from the high slot that Bizgala was able to get a piece of but not able to fully stop as it trickled through just :27 after the first goal. Shots were 9-8 Muskegon in the period but the Phantoms had a 2 goal lead.