Phantoms bounce back to beat Cedar Rapids, 3-1

YOUNGSTOWN — Pulling a complete 180 from Friday night’s tilt against Cedar Rapids, the Youngstown Phantoms controlled the pace in a 3-1 win against the RoughRiders on Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.

“We needed that,” Phantoms coach Brad Patterson said. “Last night the frustration from my end was our intensity … at this time of the year, you need to be locked in and I felt like the guys, the message we delivered this morning and talked about, I really think they took it upon themselves.

“Our leadership core, they were driving the ship tonight. I said to a couple of the guys that we had a few passengers and I didn’t feel that way tonight.”

Kicking off the scoring was Josh DeLuca, who scored midway through the first period. DeLuca, who recently committed to Bowling Green, is a “grit-and-grind” player who may not receive recognition but, according to Patterson, is an integral part of the team.

“He does a lot of hard work and the dirty work that you need guys to do,” Patterson said. “He consistently does and he was rewarded. You know, there’s multiple schools that were after him.

“I think he’s found a great fit with (Bowling Green), and I think it’s going to be a really good thing for him. I think he’s taken steps every week and he’s become a complete player. He can play in any situation and get rewarded.”

Following DeLuca was defenseman Jayson Dobay, who scored his second goal of the weekend.

“He was consistently moving his feet in both games this weekend and when he does that, he’s an exceptional defenseman,” Patterson said. “He is always good and if you pay attention to details, he does some things quietly and he definitely made a good step this weekend, and I’m looking forward to seeing much more.”

Trevor Kuntar scored his 28th goal of the season. The Harvard commit sits at fourth in the USHL in goals and 10th overall in points.

With 5 minutes remaining, a wayward puck shot by Jack O’Leary bounced off the back of Aidan Gallacher and into the net, giving the RoughRiders their only goal of the night.

The Phantoms stay at home next weekend with a two-game set against Dubuque. As the season ends, it gets more important for the Phantoms (20-22-6-2, 48 points) to take a playoff mindset as they fight for a spot in the postseason.

“Every game from here on out is a playoff mentality,” Patterson said. “Are you going to win them all? No, but you’ve got to stop the bleeding and you stop it quick when things don’t go right. We’ve got a huge test with Dubuque coming in next weekend, and that’s what our eyes are on right now.”


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