YOUNGSTOWN, OH – After playing 117 games for the Fargo Force over the last two seasons, Phantoms centerman Austin Pooley came back to haunt his former team, scoring the overtime winner on Friday night to give the Youngstown Phantoms (27-14-4-1, 59 points) a 2-1 victory over Pooley’s former mates.
“(Pooley) had this one circled on his calendar for a while” said Phantoms defenseman Dominic Dockery. “It was great for him to get the game winner, it means a lot for him, it means a lot to the boys.”
It took a full 43 minutes of hockey before either team found the back of the net. “I didn’t think we were real crisp that first 40 (minutes),” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “Ivan (Kulbakov) obviously stole that one for us, but we’ll be much better tomorrow night.”
Fargo opened the scoring with a power play goal 3:04 into the third period. Paul Washe redirected a shot from center point past Ivan Kulbakov (25 saves) for his 11th goal of the year to give Fargo a 1-0 lead.
Youngstown tied the game just over three minutes later at 6:05. Curtis Hall entered the Fargo end and skated through the slot down toward the bottom of the left circle, drawing the defense with him. Hall then spun and sent a pass back to the point to Dockery, who blasted a one-timer past Ryan Bischel (17 saves) for his third goal of the year. “It was a great play by ‘Hallsy’ to draw more than one guy to him so he could dish the puck to me,” said Dockery. “We had a lot guys in front, great screen, and it found a way to go in.”
Neither team found the back of the net in the remainder of regulation, so the game went to overtime. Youngstown has played beyond regulation in six of their last nine home games. In overtime, Coale Norris won a race to a loose puck in front of Bischel and passed to Pooley. Pooley dragged the puck through the right circle and fired a wrist shot over Bischel’s left shoulder from the dot for the game winning goal. “Terrific shot by Austin, who’s had a hot stick of late,” said Patterson. “I know that one was a big one for him personally.” The goal, Pooley’s 17th of the year, gave him the team lead, overtaking Nicolas Werbik. Werbik was back in the lineup after being injured early in the first period against Muskegon last Friday.
The win allowed the Phantoms to remain one point behind the third-place Muskegon Lumberjacks. Youngstown did extend their lead over fifth-place Green Bay to nine points with 14 games remaining for each team.
Youngstown and Fargo face off against tomorrow night with puck drop scheduled for 7:05pm Eastern. It’s another Youth Jersey Night, with the first 750 fans 12 and under receiving free jerseys courtesy of the Eastwood Mall. Gates open at 6:00. Broadcasts of the game will be available on YPHR and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 19
Saves – 25
Power Play – 0/0
Penalty Kill – 2/3
Goals – Dockery, Pooley
Assists – Hall, Mahalak, Norris
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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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