If the rivalry between our Youngstown Phantoms and the expansion franchise Bloomington Thunder wasn't official before, then it is after last night. The Phantoms put a heavy beating on the Eastern Conference newcomers in a way that is sure to not sit well with the Thunder. Coming off of a weekend where they bounce back from a 5-4 loss in OT to a 6-0 win the next night in Dubuque, the Phantoms added another 2 points in the standings by knocking off the Thunder 6-1. The story of the night wouldn't be even strength scoring either. This was a match filled with a lot of penalties and special teams, and this season the Phantoms thrive on special teams. 

The first period started slow enough with only a handful of shots through the first 10:00 or so. The Bloomington defense was looking very solid and clogging up the neutral zone very effectively. The Phantoms were unable to generate much in the way of transition up ice and had some difficulty getting into the Thunder's end and generating attack zone time. The Phantoms even squandered a little 4-on-4 time, failing to get good rubber on Bloomington's starter, David Jacobsen. The Phantoms finally broke through on a PP, Ryan Lomberg blasting one from the point to make it 1-0 with just 0:32 left in the period. As a bit of foreshadowing, the Phantoms Connor Yau took a holding penalty :17 after and as the buzzer sounded to end the period, Ryan Lomberg and Matt Mendelson matched each other's  minor penalty in a little rough play that was called cross-checking and unsportsmanlike conduct respectively. Colin DeAugustine stopped all 14 shot of the period, this his second consecutive start.

It's another late recap, I apologize. Between the horrible streaming quality coming out of Dubuque and a very busy weekend I figured it really didn't matter. This isn't going to be a really detailed analysis of the game anyway. This is just going to be a breakdown of what went right and what went wrong.

Friday's tilt in Dubugue started out good. Despite being outshot by a wide margin (17-9) and the Saints owning the terrirorial advantage most of the period, the Phantoms scored the first two goals in the first period with Kiefer Sherwood and Kevin Conley both lighting the lamp behind the Saints netminder Jacob Nehama. However, in the second period things started to go south for the Phantoms.  A little over the halfway mark of the period Brett Boeing, their leading scorer, took a bad clear and rifled a shot over Chris Birdsall, off the crossbar and in. The period would get a little chippy and Ryan Lomberg would take his first bad penalty of the season and second of the game. It looked to me like he left his position, it was hard to track,  and went to engage a Saint after some rough stuff prior to the play. Whatever the reason, he ended up with a checking from behind minor and a misconduct, removing him from the game for 12:00. Dubuque would match it up with a Shane Kavanagh minor at 18:55. in the ensuing 4-on-4, Max Letunov would take advantage of the room with Josh Melnick getting him the puck down low in the faceoff circle and Letunov buried it to put the Phantoms back up by a pair with less than a minute to go. Dubuque wasn't going to wait for the end of the period to regroup and with just 0:09 left in the period, Dylan Gambrell would intercept a pass and walked in alone on Birdsall to score and cut the lead back down to just a goal. Again the Phantoms were badly outshot, this time 13-5.

Sorry for the lateness of the recaps and combining them into a single article. I was too worn out from the trip to Ann Arbor and the excitement of the home opener. I guess us old guys who work in offices the rest of the week can't keep up. Also, I have some technical issues to deal with that, while it (thankfully) doesn't affect my ability to post here this time, did eat up a lot of free time.  

Let's start with the Ann Arbor game. Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Phantoms played well but just couldn't match the U18 firepower. That's pretty much it. It was close down to the 3rd. Luke Kunin and Jeremy Bracco scored to open the first period. Max Letunov would have that lead late in the period on a goal I thought should have been credited to Taylor Best. Josh Melnick fired a shot in from the point and Letunov banged the rebound past the NTDP's netminder, Michael Lackey. The puck was bouncing behind Lackey and I thought Best whacked it before it crossed the line, but that's life. Then in the second, after a lengthy delay from Caleb Jones putting Josh Nenadal into the glass hard and shattering it, Letunov would get an goal that was undeniably his. Letunov picked the pocket of defensman Joseph Masonius in the high slot. It was an easy waltz in on Lackey for the only goal of the period and the score was tied. Tage Thomas would put the NTDP up about halfway through the period but Josh Melnick tied it back up about a minute later on a 5-on-3 powerplay. The Phantoms ran out of gas there and Charles McAvoy and Brendan Warren would score goals on Chris Birdsall, who got the start for the Phantoms, and Bracco would get his second of the night on an empty net. The Phantoms played good, not perfect and to beat this team you need to bring 60 minutes of your best game. Small mistakes, nothing I can name names or point out specific plays, let the NTDP have this one.