Phantoms Look to Prove Themselves on 3-Game Western SwingOctober 17, 2012 - United States Hockey League (USHL) Youngstown Phantoms
After going unbeaten to open the season, the Phantoms (4-2-0, 8 points) were handed their first two losses of the season at the hands of the Dubuque Fighting Saints. They will have the chance get back on the winning track, however, with three road games in as many days against Western Conference opponents. The Phantoms will take on the Fargo Force Thursday night and Sioux City Musketeers Friday night before wrapping up Saturday night against the Sioux Falls Stampede.
Phantoms defenseman Jimmy Mazza said that he and his teammates were caught off-guard last weekend by a disciplined, defensive-minded Fighting Saints team. But the losses, though difficult to stomach, would make the team stronger in the long haul.
"In order to win a championship, we're going to have to deal with adversity," he said. "I think it's going to help build our character."
Head coach Anthony Noreen said there will certainly be no shortage of adversity out west this week. The second-year bench boss said back-to-back-to-back games in hostile road environments will test his team's conditioning and ability to remain mentally focused, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing.
"One of the nice things about these long road trips and going way out west is that, the staff and the guys kind of treat it like it's us against the world," Noreen said. "You've got to make your own energy on the bench and in the locker room and you're not going to get a lot of help from the fans.
"That's one of the things that really brings teams together."
The results of Noreen's "us against the world' road mentality road are hard to argue. Since last season, the Phantoms are 12-0-4 against Western Conference opponents, including a 5-0-3 record on the road. They won a thrilling 9-6 game against the defending Western Conference champion Waterloo Black Hawks back on Oct. 5, but this week presents a wholly different challenge.
Both Fargo (3-2-1, 7 points) and Sioux Falls (4-2-0, 8 points) are near the top of the Western Conference standings and undefeated at home this season. The Force have three players in the top 10 in scoring in the league, including Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Dominic Toninato. The Stampede have a pair among the top 10 scorers as well, led by second-year forward Sam Rothstein, and are the only team that the Phantoms have yet to defeat since joining the USHL in 2009-10.
Sandwiched between the Force and Stampede are Musketeers (1-2-2, 4 points), who have played better hockey that their record would suggest. Four of Sioux City's five games have been decided by just one goal with three of those requiring overtime. With nine returners from last year's team, including second-leading scorer David Goodwin, and the additions of former Cedar Rapids agitator Tanner Pond and Team USA product Nikolas Olsson, the Musketeers will provide anything but reprieve for the Phantoms.
Mazza, though, said he and his Phantoms teammates relish the opportunity to prove themselves once again.
"[Last weekend] was a little embarrassing so it's great to be able to go out there with the chance to start throwing the body, get shots on goal, cause some havoc and win some games," he said. "It's should be a great weekend."
Thursday, Oct. 18: Phantoms at Fargo - 8:05 p.m. EST on FASTHockey.com
Friday, Oct. 19: Phantoms at Sioux City - 8:00 p.m. EST on FASTHockey.com
Saturday, Oct. 20: Phantoms at Sioux Falls - 8:05 p.m. EST on FASTHockey.com
Season tickets for the 2012-13 season are on sale now starting at the low price of just $7 a game. Benefits include invitations to exclusive season ticket holder events, discounts at the Phantoms Team Shop, playoff priority and much more. Call 330.747.PUCK (7825) for more information or to reserve seats today. For all the latest news, visit www.YoungstownPhantoms.com, follow the Phantoms on Twitter ( @YtownPhantoms ) and "like' them on Facebook ( www.Facebook.com/YoungstownPhantoms ).
United States Hockey League Stories from October 17, 2012
- Ice Earn Road Win at Green Bay - Indiana Ice
- National Team Development Program Weekly Update - U.S. National Team
- Phantoms Look to Prove Themselves on 3-Game Western Swing - Youngstown Phantoms
- Ice, Gamblers Face off Tonight in Eastern Finals Rematch - Indiana Ice
- Storm Name Captains for 2012-13 Season - Tri-City Storm
- Four Players Suspended - Green Bay Gamblers
- USHL Issues Disciplinary Action - USHL
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