DUBUQUE, IA – Unable to cash in on any of their multiple odd-man rush and breakaway opportunities, the Youngstown Phantoms (19-12-4-1, 43 points) fell to the Dubuque Fighting Saints 3-1 Saturday night at the Mystique Community Ice Center, dropping both games of the two-game series.
“It was a playoff atmosphere,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “Very emotional game from both sides…it’s tough to be on the losing end here.”
Eric Esposito put Youngstown on the board first, giving them a 1-0 lead at 13:21 of the first period. A shot from the point by Andrew Petrillo was initially saved by Dubuque netminder Jaxon Castor (17 saves), but the rebound came to Esposito, who sprawled out to roof a backhander for his sixth goal of the season. “(Eric) never quit on the puck,” said Patterson. “He never quits on anything. All the credit in the world to him, he deserved that one.”
Dubuque tied the game with a power play goal at 16:57. Colin Theisen took a cross-ice pass from Zach Solow. Theisen delayed, waiting for a shooting lane to open up, then fired a slapshot past Youngstown goaltender Ivan Kulbakov (15 saves) for his 18th goal of the year.
Youngstown had several breakaway and odd-man chances in the second period, but were unable to get anything past Castor. The Fighting Saints took the lead at 17:15 of that second period when Jacob Semik wristed a shot from center point past Kulbakov for his third goal of the year. Dubuque added an insurance goal at 8:36 of the third period when Cole Guttman scored his 16th goal of the season, running a give-and-go off the wall with Dallas Gerads as a power play expired for the Saints. Youngstown pulled Kulbakov for the extra attacker with 2:30 remaining, but was unable to trim the deficit. Earning the win, Castor improved his career mark against Youngstown to 4-1, with a 1.70 goals-against average and a .926 save-percentage. Dubuque won all four games against Youngstown this season.
The Phantoms return to the ice tomorrow evening to wrap up this three-game road trip as they stop in Bloomington to take on the Thunder. Broadcasts of the game will be available on HockeyTV and WJBC 1230 AM out of Bloomington.
By the Numbers
Shots – 18
Saves – 15
Power Play – 0/4
Penalty Kill – 4/5
Goals – E. Esposito
Assists – Lalonde, Petrillo
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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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