Phantoms lose their opener

YOUNGSTOWN — Short-term memory is what the Youngstown Phantoms need going into tonight’s Game 2 after dropping Monday’s series opener to the Dubuque Fighting Saints, 3-1.

“They were blocking shots, playing playoff hockey,” Phantoms forward Brett Murray said. “We’ll watch the video and regroup and come back (tonight). Short-term memory is a key you’ve got to have, especially in a three-game series. We’re not going to win every game in the playoffs so you’ve just got to take the loss as it is and come back (today) starting like we were (Monday).”

Murray opened the scoring midway through the second period with a goal assisted by Jeppe Urup.

The first period was dominated in the shot share department by Dubuque, who put up 11 to the Phantoms’ four. Phantoms coach Brad Patterson said it came down to skating.

“I thought they outskated us,” Patterson said. “As the game went I thought we got better. I liked our start, I didn’t really see the penalty, I thought we had good energy, but it’s tough to start on the (penalty) kill right away. It was what it was. I thought Chad (Veltri) did well in our net and we’ll get better (tonight).”

Phantoms right winger Jack Malone got three shots on net, the most on the team along with Murray and defenseman Trevor Kuntar. Malone echoed Murray’s thoughts about a short-term memory.

“Have to have a short memory,” Malone said. “Forgetting the bad things we did today and focus on the positives and start to build off those things and be ready for the game (tonight).”

It may be hard to see positives in a 3-1 loss, but the 82nd-ranked prospect in North America saw some building blocks for the team going forward.

“We showed a lot of physicality, especially in the second period,” Malone said. “I thought we were on our heels towards the beginning in the first, but once we started to play more physical and work low in the offensive zone and get a lot of shots from the point to create chaos. If we do more of that we’ll be in a good spot.”

That theme of resilience carried through to the coaches as well as the players.

“That’s my message to the guys,” Patterson said. “We can dwell on it that for five or six minutes, but at the end of the day we’re going to have to regroup and the good thing about is we get to attack (tonight).”

Down one with a five-on-three powerplay in the third period, the Phantoms had a great chance to tie the game up. Dubuque’s goalie, Matthew Thiessen, held strong and played like a brick wall despite being peppered with shots.

“I think each one of the guys on the ice looked good for them at some stage,” Patterson said. “I think when we did get it low and looked to attack I thought we had a really good look and it just bobbled on us and we couldn’t connect.”

The Phantoms plan on changing things up for tonight’s game against the Fighting Saints. With a win tonight, they’ll force a decisive game three on Wednesday.

“We’ll have to change a couple things,” Patterson said. “I think our execution can be better for sure and it will be. I don’t know if we were at our best, but we know we can be better (tonight) and I know the guys are chomping at the bit to get going.”