Photo Credit: Christian Cuozzo
OMAHA, NE – After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Youngstown Phantoms (30-18-4-1, 65 points) allowed four unanswered goals in the second period as they fell to the Omaha Lancers 5-2 Saturday night at Ralston Arena.
“I think once we got up 2-0, there was a thought process that it was almost going to be an easy game, which as we all know, it’s never like that here,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “I thought we started to cheat to the offensive side of the puck…we weren’t making good decisions.”
Youngstown opened the scoring at 5:59 of the first period when Michael Karow blasted a one-timer from the top of the left circle past Omaha netminder Ryan Keane (30 saves) to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead with his second goal of the year. Jay O’Brien was awarded the primary assist on Karow’s goal, O’Brien’s first point in the USHL. The Phantoms doubled their lead with Alec Mahalak’s laser-shot into the top left corner at 7:31, his fifth goal of the year. “I thought the first period, we had a good start,” said Patterson. “A lot of what we set out to accomplish I thought for the most part that we did.”
Omaha started their comeback 1:32 into the second. Filip Suchy opened the scoring for the Lancers, scoring on a redirect to cut Youngstown’s lead to 2-1. Cole Gallant scored a power play goal off the rush at 4:53 to tie the game. Trevor St. Jean was the beneficiary of a Youngstown turnover behind the net, and his goal at 9:28 gave Omaha the lead at 3-2. Patterson took his timeout after the St. Jean goal to try to stem Omaha’s momentum, but the Lancers had one more goal in them during the second period. Ben Lown doubled the Omaha lead at 18:08 with his tenth goal of the year, capping off the Lancers’ outburst. Omaha fired 14 shots in the second period on Ivan Kulbakov (21 saves); the Phantoms only managed six on Keane. Youngstown outshot Omaha 15-6 in the third, but was unable to draw any closer. Gallant scored an empty net goal at 19:59 of the third to make up the final margin.
The loss, combined with wins by Muskegon and Green Bay and a loss by Dubuque, means the Phantoms are only three points ahead of the fifth-place Gamblers. Youngstown’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot remains at 10. Muskegon leap-frogged Dubuque and is now in second place. The Phantoms trail the third-place Fighting Saints by four points with eight games remaining for both teams. Youngstown has two games in-hand on Green Bay.
The Phantoms conclude their final road trip of the season next weekend with a pair of games against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Friday and Saturday evenings followed by the final matchup of the season with the Chicago Steel on Sunday afternoon.
By the Numbers
Shots – 32
Saves – 21
Power Play – 0/2
Penalty Kill – 2/3
Goals – Karow, Mahalak
Assists – Apap, Gresock, Norris, O’Brien
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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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