Fans to Rally for Phantoms Playoff Hockey in the ValleyApril 15, 2012 - United States Hockey League (USHL) Youngstown Phantoms
The Youngstown Phantoms begin their quest for the Clark Cup Monday night when they take on the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at Covelli Centre. It's Game 1 of a best-of-three series - all hosted by the Phantoms.
Game 2 will be Tuesday, April 17 and if necessary, Game 3 will be the following night. Puck drop is 7:15 p.m. EST for all playoff games.
"It's huge for the franchise," Phantoms left wing and team captain Mike Ambrosia said. "It our first time in the playoffs.
"The best way to describe it is everyone's enjoying the moment but we're taking it very seriously. We can't wait for Monday to get started."
With tickets still available for all three games, the Phantoms are expecting a large walk-up crowd Monday night at the Covelli Centre. The Phantoms set a franchise record with 18 home wins this season and goaltender Matthew O'Connor said hosting the opening round of the playoffs is a big boost for him and his teammates.
"I'm absolutely thrilled," said O'Connor, whose 28 wins were second most in the United States Hockey League this season. "We worked really hard this year to push for that goal and it's nice to have a third-year franchise in the playoffs. It's really exciting for the fans."
The Phantoms went 3-0-1 in four meetings with the RoughRiders this season, but Head Coach Anthony Noreen said the winning record might appear deceiving. Three of the four games went to overtime and the fourth was decided in regulation by just one goal. The first-year head coach said he expects the playoff series to be no different.
"All four times we've played them, the pace of the game has been as high as any we've been a part of all year," Noreen said. "I think it's going to be ramped up even more in the playoffs."
The Phantoms clinched the franchise's first playoff berth in early March and wrapped up home-ice advantage in the first round with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over the Indiana Ice on April 7. Between those games, however, the team was hit with a rash of injuries and illness that prevented them from dressing a full lineup on a number of occasions.
With his team firmly entrenched as the No. 4 seed in the USHL Eastern Conference heading into the season finale series with the Green Bay Gamblers last weekend, Noreen was afforded the luxury of being able to rest top players like Dylan Margonari, JT Stenglein, Chris Bradley and Ryan Belonger. He said having everyone back, healthy, rested and ready makes for a welcome problem for his coaching staff when it comes time to choose the lineup Monday.
"If you're going to be going into a playoff series, you want your best," he said. "For the first time in a long time we finally have our best available to us to put out on the ice, which is all you can ask for at this point.
"There's not too much pretty about our team when we're at our best. We play a hard-nosed, in-your-face style and we don't like to slow the game down whatsoever - we like to keep the pace very high. I think all those things make us a tough team to match up against."
Clark Cup playoff tickets are on sale now at the Youngstown Phantoms Office by calling 330-747-PUCK (7825). Tickets are also available for walk-up purchases at the Covelli Centre box office on the game day. All Phantoms home playoff games are "Double Dollar Deal Days" where a 16-oz. beer, 16-oz. soda, popcorn or hotdog cost just $2. Plus, the Phantoms are offering complimentary parking for all games. Make sure not to miss out on all the exciting Clark Cup playoff action!
Season tickets for the 2012-13 season are on sale now. For a limited time, season ticket plans for all 32 home games next season start at the low price of just $160, but only if fans lock in by July 31. Call the Phantoms office 330.747.PUCK (7825) for more information or to reserve seats today. For all the latest Phantoms news, visit www.YoungstownPhantoms.com .
United States Hockey League Stories from April 15, 2012
- Black Hawks Distribute Team Awards - Waterloo Black Hawks
- Fans to Rally for Phantoms Playoff Hockey in the Valley - Youngstown Phantoms
- U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team Bests Denmark, 4-0, in 2012 IIHF Men's World U18 Championship - U.S. National Team
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