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Phantoms rebound for fifth win in six games

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Phantoms rebound for 5th win in 6

By Tom Williams


Matthew Barnaby Jr.’s second goal in two nights required a little less effort.

In the Phantoms’ 6-3 win over the Lincoln Stars Saturday at Covelli Centre, the Phantoms fell behind early, allowing two goals in 40 seconds.

Almost as quickly, they tied the game. Fifty-five seconds after Trevor Kuntar scored, Barnaby found a rebound of Craig Needham’s shot all alone unguarded in the crease. The Penn State recruit tapped it home to wipe out lowly Lincoln’s early dominance.

“Needham had like seven shots on net and I thought that one went in,” Barnaby said. “It was just sitting on the goal line — it was a lot easier than the one last night.”

In Friday’s 5-2 win over the Stars, Barnaby produced a highlight-reel goal that had social media buzzing.

Barnaby took a pass from Kuntar in the neutral zone and skated hard into the slot. As three Stars defenders pursued, Barnaby slipped the puck between the skates of defenseman Samulu Niinisaari, then slipped past him to retrieve the puck.

He aimed high and lifted the puck over goaltender Samuel Hlavaj before tumbling head over skates. His mother, Christine, showed him the video after the game.

“I didn’t know that my skates went that high, so that was funny to see,” Barnaby said. “That was a pretty cool goal.”

The video quickly spread. Ryan Kennedy, a writer for The Hockey News, was in the house and retweeted the USHL video. Eventually, ESPN hockey guru John Buccigross did as well.

Kuntar said the Phantoms were aware that the video had spread online.

“I saw him cut to the left and it was pretty crowded,” Kuntar said. “He put it through the guy’s legs and ripped it top shelf.

“That was pretty crazy. I saw [the replay] on Twitter so I ‘favorited’ it and retweeted it,” Kuntar said. “That was pretty cool.”

Brett Murray’s 25th goal of the season snapped a 3-3 tie in third period. Dalton Messina made it a two-goal game when he exited the penalty box for a breakaway and goal. Murray’s empty-netter sealed the Phantoms’ fifth win in six games.

“We’re playing well, we’re sticking to our game,” Kuntar said.

Christian Stoever stopped 22 shots for his second win in two nights. Ryan Carmichael and Tristan Ashbrook scored early for the Stars.

Phantoms head coach Brad Patterson said bad bounces were why.

“I think the first one goes off a stick as we got a block on it and the second one off of [someone’s] pants,” Patterson said. “‘Stoves’ had a good game — I wouldn’t fault him on either of those.”

Ashbrook’s second goal put the Stars ahead 3-2. Minutes later, Joey Abate restored the tie with a sniper shot from close to the boards.

Because of a snowstorm around Buffalo, Barnaby’s mother arrived at Friday’s game right before he scored.

“She took a seat and I scored, so I’m going to have to have her start coming to more home games,” Barnaby said. “She drove through a snowstorm — it was awesome to have her here. She’s bringing me some good luck.”

Kuntar credited Matt DeMelis for “a nice pass to me” to set up his goal.

“I wanted to one-time it but I had to [stop the puck] with my skate and put it to my backhand,” Kuntar said.