YOUNGSTOWN, OH – Putting up four goals for the first time in almost a month, the Youngstown Phantoms (19-11-3-1, 42 points) used that offensive explosion to power past the Bloomington Thunder 4-1 Monday afternoon at the Covelli Centre.
“I think it was a back-and-forth game,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “I think some puck luck was working for us tonight…I’m extremely happy with the guys.”
Youngstown jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. The first goal came courtesy of Austin Pooley, a power play goal at 7:42. “Puck just went up to the point, I think (Alec) Mahalak was just looking to make a pass to (Alex) Esposito. Hit their “D”’s stick, and I just got a little bit of my stick on it and it ended up going in,” recounted Pooley after the game.
The second Youngstown goal came off the stick of Eric Esposito at 14:52. On his knees in the right wing corner, Esposito sent a centering pass for Evan Wisocky. The puck never made it there, as it hit off goaltender Logan Halladay (15 saves) and redirected into the net. The goal, Esposito’s fifth of the season, gave the Phantoms their first multi-goal first period since December 16 against Des Moines.
Chase Gresock made it 3-0 with a power play goal at 12:38 of the second period. Gresock’s initial shot from the left circle was blocked, but he was able to regather the loose puck and wrist one past Halladay for his eighth goal of the year.
Bloomington got on the board with a power play goal of their own at 8:46 of the third period. With Noah Lalonde and Nicolas Werbik in the box to give the Thunder a two-man advantage, defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk floated a wrist shot past Phantoms goaltender Ivan Kulbakov (27 saves) for his fourth goal of the season.
Bloomington pulled Halladay with 2:16 remaining in regulation to try to draw closer, but Pooley came away with the puck in the corner of his defensive zone, turned, and fired the length of the ice and into the empty net for his second goal of the game, 10th of the season, to finalize the victory for Youngstown.
The Phantoms wrapped up their three-game homestand getting 5-of-6 points and now will head out for a three-game road trip that features two games against the Dubuque Fighting Saints and another matchup with the Thunder. Friday’s game against Dubuque starts at 8:35pm Eastern, Saturday’s game starts at 8:05pm Eastern, and Sunday’s game in Bloomington starts at 5:00pm Eastern. All games will be available on HockeyTV,
By the Numbers
Shots – 19
Saves – 27
Power Play – 2/4
Penalty Kill – 4/5
Goals – Pooley (2), E. Esposito, Gresock
Assists – Karow, Lalonde, Mahalak (2), Norris, Werbik
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Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17. 30 players were chosen in the 2016 NHL Draft and more than 402 players on team rosters this season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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