Captain Aiden Gallacher and crew clean up ~560 stuffed animals during the Phantoms anual Teddy Bear Toss.Fur Madness! - Captain Aiden Gallacher and crew clean up ~560 stuffed animals during the Phantoms anual Teddy Bear Toss.
 

The Muskegon Lumberjacks at the Covelli Centre might have been the best thing for the Phantoms. After a rough weekend in Dubuque and desperately needing points in the standings, facing a conference rival you're trailing in the standings by 2 points and have won 3 of the 4 previous meetings sounds like a good match up. And it was.

The Phantoms opened the scoring early in the first period. Matthew Cassidy blocked a shot from 'Jacks defenseman Dylan Davies. Cassidy took off up ice and Jayson Dobay grabbed the puck and flipped it out of the zone. The puck rolled into the attack zone to the left faceoff circle where Cassidy caught up to it and drove it in on goal, ripping a backhander over the 'Jacks netminder Jack Williams at 4:56. Seeing as it was Teddy Bear night, there was a bit of a delay to clear the ice after a frenzy of flying fur.

The Phantoms pushed the lead to 2-0 at 7:25 of the second when Williams slid out, well beyond the top of his crease. He made the save but the puck trickled to the side of the net where Jan Kern and John Beaton sparred with the 'jacks defenders, Kern managing to poke it in before Williams recovered. The 'Jacks had been lucky on a similar sequence in the first where he managed to get back and cover it before the puck crossed the line, close enough the goal judge lit the lamp briefly.

Dominic Basse plays the puck in a 4-2 loss to the Green Bay Gamblers Saturday night.Basse Plays the Puck! - Dominic Basse plays the puck in a 4-2 loss to the Green Bay Gamblers Saturday night.
 

You can't expect to win them all playing from behind. We seem to have this expectation that going into the third 1 or 2 goals down is a good idea. It's worked the previous two games at the Covelli prior to last night. It did not work last night.

The game started off a little better than Friday I thought. However, at the 10:09 mark, Kyler Grundy hit Ryan O'Rielly with a nice pass from the left faceoff circle to the right for a one-timer that Dominic Basse had no chance on. That was all the scoring in the opening frame and the Phantoms outshot the Gamblers by a slim 7-6 margin.

The Phantoms got on the board early off a powerplay when Aiden Gallacher stepped into a loose puck and launched a blistering slap shot that beat the Gamblers goaltender Nicholas Grabko. I don't know if Grabko was screened or not but he probably would have had a hard time with the heavy shot even if he had a clean lane in front of him.

The Gamblers got the next two goals. First, the Gambers Tyler Pauquette tapped a rebound from the side of the crease out to the slot for defenseman Dylan Moulten, and Dominic Basse was not able to change position in time to square up at 8:57. At 13:57 Nicholas Zabaneh fired a wrist shot from the slot on a breakaway, O'Rielly hitting him with a pass after he got behind John Larkin.

The Youngstown Phantoms and Green Bay Gamblers will be a lot better acquainted after playing 3 games in 3 days. The Phantoms won the first in OT, 4-3.Up Close & Personal! - The Youngstown Phantoms and Green Bay Gamblers will be a lot better acquainted after playing 3 games in 3 days. The Phantoms won the first in OT, 4-3.
 

The Phantoms have had their struggles this season. To highlight two of these, let's go back to the weekend of November 29-30, a road trip to Wisconsin where we played Green Bay and Madison. This was the last time we won a game we scored first in, and the last time we won consecutive games this season before last night. After meeting the Green Bay Gamblers at home for the first time this season, at least one of those droughts is over.

It wasn't about scoring the first goal, that one goes to the Gamblers. Green Bay's Camden Thiesing, on a 3-on-2, brought the puck into the Phantoms zone and passed to Jarrett Lee who one-timed one through Dominic Basse but rang it off the post. Basse overslid trying to make the save on the shot and was nowhere near the front of the cage when Jake Schmaltz tapped it in at 5:13. 

The Gamblers went into intermission up 2-0 after adding a goal by Tyler Paqutte who redirected a shot in the slot from John Prokop off a clean faceoff win in the Phantoms zone. Shots were 11-8 Gamblers after the first period.

Green Bay quickly added to that in the second. Camden Thiesing using his speed again, this time to get around Nikolai Jenson, and walk in on Basse. Basse appeared to make the initial save as Thiesing pulled up but the puck sat in the crease for a split second as Basse tried to block as much of the net as possible. It wasn't enough, and Thiesing tapped it in at 0:59. 

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