MUSKEGON, MI – In a game that seem destined for overtime, a goal with less than two minutes remaining in regulation lifted the Muskegon Lumberjacks over the Youngstown Phantoms (25-14-4-1, 55 points) by a 2-1 margin Friday night at LC Walker Arena.
“Overall I thought it was a good hockey game both ways,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “But there’s definitely a sour taste in the guys’ mouths leaving here without two points.”
After a scoreless first period, Youngstown opened the scoring with a power play goal 3:12 into the second. Austin Pooley was left all alone in the slot and beat Muskegon netminder Keith Petruzelli (30 saves) high to the blocker side to give Youngstown the 1-0 lead with his 15th goal of the season. The primary assist went to Pierce Crawford, who was playing in his first game for the Phantoms since being acquired from the Omaha Lancers on Tuesday. “I thought (Pierce) was great,” said Patterson. “(He’s a) welcome addition.”
Muskegon tied it with a power play goal of their own at 7:50. Lumberjacks forward Andrei Svechnikov fired a one-timer over the right shoulder of Phantoms goaltender Ivan Kulbakov (19 saves) to knot things up at one. Svechnikov leads all USHL rookies in scoring with 40 points (21 goals, 19 assists). “(Svechnikov) is an elite player,” said Patterson. “Doesn’t matter where he is on the ice, he’s definitely dynamic. I thought for the most part the guys did a good job on him tonight.”
A full 30 minutes would go by on the game clock before the game winning goal. Playing in his third game with the Lumberjacks, Austin Alger took a pass from Svechnikov on the right-wing wall, used a toe drag to get around a Phantoms defender, stepped into the circle, and beat Kulbakov with a wrist shot over the glove for his 13th goal of the year, first with Muskegon, to give the Lumberjacks a 2-1 lead with just 1:24 remaining on the third period clock. Youngstown pulled Kulbakov for the extra attacker off the ensuing faceoff, but the Phantoms were unable to find the tying goal in the remaining 84 seconds. The loss snapped Youngstown’s four-game winning streak.
With the loss, the Phantoms now find themselves in a tie for third place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference with Muskegon at 55 points. Both teams remain five points clear of the fifth-place Green Bay Gamblers.
Youngstown returns home tomorrow night for a 7:05pm faceoff against Team USA’s U17 squad. It’s Military Appreciation night at the Covelli Centre, featuring a pregame concert by Amanda Jones & The Family Band and a postgame jersey auction with proceeds benefitting local chapters of the Disabled Veterans of America. Broadcasts will be available on YPHR and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 31
Saves – 19
Power Play – 1/3
Penalty Kill – 4/5
Goals – Pooley
Assists – Crawford, Estes
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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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