Photo Credit: Joe Maenza
GENEVA, IL – The Chicago Steel scored the first three goals of the game and never looked back as they downed the Youngstown Phantoms 4-1 Friday night at the Fox Valley Ice Arena. Chicago leads the best-of-five Eastern Conference Semifinals one-game-to-none.
“It took us a while to get going,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “It was definitely better as the game went.”
Baker Shore opened the scoring at 14:19 of the first, beating Phantoms netminder Ivan Kulbakov (33 saves) over the glove to the short side to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. The Steel doubled their lead at 16:50 of the second period when Mitch Lewandowski‘s shot hit a leg and bounched through Kulbakov’s five-hole to push Chicago’s lead to 2-0. Reggie Lutz beat Kulbakov with a wrist shot from the left circle at 12:20 of the third period to give the Steel a 3-0 advantage.
Youngstown broke up Ales Stezka’s (25 saves) shutout bid at 16:49 of the third. Jake Gingell threw a puck up ice, trying to allow Max Ellis to catch up to it for a break away. Stezka came out of his net to try to poke the puck away from Ellis near the top of the circles, but Ellis was able to chip the puck past Stezka and tap it into the empty cage for his first career Clark Cup Playoff goal.
Youngstown pulled Kulbakov for the extra attacker at 16:58, but Chicago captain Marc Johnstone scored on the empty net at 18:32 to put the game away for the Steel.
“We knew going in that it was going to be a long series, it was going to be a tough series, and nothing was going to be easy,” said Patterson. “Tomorrow we’re going to have to show up and be better.”
Youngstown and Chicago will face off against tomorrow night for Game Two of this Eastern Conference Semifinal with puck drop scheduled for 8:05pm eastern. Broadcasts will be available on HockeyTV and the Chicago Steel Broadcast Network on mixLR.
By the Numbers
Shots – 26
Saves – 33
Power Play – 0/4
Penalty Kill – 4/4
Goals – Ellis
Assists – Gingell
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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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