FARGO, ND – In a back-and-forth affair that saw three ties and two lead changes, the Youngstown Phantoms (1-1-1-0, 3 points) prevailed 2-0 in a shootout to knock off the Fargo Force by the final score of 4-3 Saturday night at Scheels Arena.
“I thought there were a lot of ups and downs, big momentum swings,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “The guys stayed resilient…really happy for the guys to get that first (win). I felt they really competed and the guys really feel good about it.”
Fargo jumped out to a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. Clayton Phillips blasted a shot from the left point that trickled through the five-hole of Ivan Prosvetov at 3:38 of the first period to put the Force in front.
Youngstown scored the next two goals to take a 2-1 lead. Chase Gresock scored his second goal of the season after a wonderful pass from Gianfranco Cassaro that found Gresock all alone on the back door at 8:41 of the first period. Matthew Thomson notched his second power play goal in as many games at 9:42 of the second period. Thomson was the beneficiary of a great screen in front of the net by Curtis Hall, obstructing the view of Fargo netminder Ryan Bischel (37 saves). “(Thomson) has an NHL release on his shot,” said Patterson. “He shoots it so hard that it doesn’t have to be in that exact corner to go in the net. He was definitely a bright spot for us this weekend.”
Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup tied the game for the Force at 14:03 of the second, poking home a loose puck in the crease for a power play goal to knot things up at two. Schmidt-Svejstrup got body position at the edge of the crease and found the rebound of a Phillips’ shot sitting right behind Prosvetov.
Eric Esposito gave Youngstown back the lead at 19:05, firing home a nice cross-crease feed from Michael Regush. The goal was reviewed to see if Esposito kicked the puck into the net, but it was the stick, not the skate, that knocked the puck across the goal line. After Esposito’s first goal of the year, the Phantoms were back on top 3-2. Fargo would tie the game on a one-time blast from Ben Meyers on the power play at 5:32 of the third period. Youngstown took seven penalties on the night, killing off five of them and went 1-for-8 on the power play.
Neither team was able to score in the remainder of regulation and the game went to overtime. In the extra frame, Fargo outshot Youngstown 4-2, even though Youngstown earned a power play at 2:41 when former Phantom Griffin Loughran was called for tripping. Youngstown was unable to convert on the 4-on-3 man advantage and the contest headed to the shootout. In the skills competition, Max Ellis and Eriks Zohovs both converted on their chances; Grant Hebert and Loughran were unable to beat Prosvetov, and Youngstown emerged victorious. Prosvetov stopped 42 shots on the night, a career high, to earn his first USHL win. “(Ivan) was terrific,” said Patterson. “He was the backbone, made some tremendous stops.”
Youngstown returns home for a three-game homestand, beginning with the Green Bay Gamblers visit for a School Day game on Friday morning. Puck drop is scheduled for 11:00 am Eastern and broadcasts will be available on YPHR and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 37
Saves – 42
Power Play – 1/8
Penalty Kill – 5/7
Goals – Esposito, Gresock, Thomson
Shootout Goals – Ellis, Zohovs
Assists – Barry (2), Cassaro, Metsa (2), Regush
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Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17. 49 players were chosen in the 2017 NHL Draft and more than 400 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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