PLYMOUTH, MI – After deficits of 2-0, 3-1, and 4-3, the Youngstown Phantoms (2-4-2-1, 7 points) forced overtime against the United States National Team Development Program’s U18 squad, but Mattias Samuelsson’s goal at 1:05 of the extra frame gave the NTDP a 5-4 win at USA Hockey Arena on Friday night.
“I thought top to bottom today our compete level was very high,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “Being tenacious on pucks, hunting pucks down, creating turnovers, being aggressive on the forecheck. Just little things that started to add up. To see the guys do it and have success from it is great. I think this is as close to the best as we’ve had all year.”
Team USA opened the scoring at 9:33 of the first period on Patrick Giles’ first goal of the year and doubled their lead at 19:56 with a shorthanded goal by Erik Middendorf. Youngstown cut the lead in half at 2:06 of the second period thanks to the first USHL goal by Eriks Zohovs. Zohovs took a stretch pass from Andrew Petrillo and came down right wing. Using his body to shield himself from a defender, Zohovs flipped from backhand to forehand and elevated his shot over the right leg of Jon Mor (19 saves) to give Youngstown its first goal of the game. “Eriks has been a little bit snake-bitten,” said Patterson. “It was good to see him that that off his back tonight.”
Team USA regained its two-goal advantage two-and-a-half minutes later at 4:36 on Jake Pivonka’s power play goal. The Phantoms battled right back, however, as Liam Dennison stole a clearing pass and fired a slapshot from the left point that beat Mor at 5:30 and Youngstown was back within one at 3-2 on Dennison’s first USHL goal. “He was crisp and assertive tonight,” said Patterson. “To me that’s hockey karma, Liam does all the right things and tonight he found a way to sneak one in.”
The Phantoms tied the game at 5:53 of the third when Eric Esposito fired a puck towards the net from the right wall. The puck hit off a USA defender in front and ricocheted past Drew DeRidder (11 saves) for Esposito’s third goal of the year. DeRidder replaced Mor at the 8:30 mark of the second period in what was a planned move by NTDP Head Coach Seth Appert to get both of his goalies some work before Team USA heads to Finland next week for the Five Nations Tournament.
The NTDP regained the lead at 7:39 thanks to Adam Samuelsson’s first goal of the year, but Youngstown answered back just 18 seconds later. After a shot by Max Ellis was stopped by DeRidder, Trevor Kuntar pounced on the rebound and scored for his first USHL goal, tying the game at 4. “Trevor battles on pucks,” said Patterson. “He’s not afraid to shoot the puck. Tonight he got to the net and was able to bang one in.”
In overtime, Bode Wilde found Samuelsson wide open between the circles. Samuelsson took the pass cleanly and ripped a wrister that ticked off the end of Ivan Prosvetov’s (29 saves) glove and into the net for the game winner.
Yougnstown returns to action next Friday night as they travel to Bloomington to take on the Central Illinois Flying Aces. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:07pm Eastern and broadcasts will be available on HockeyTV and WJBC.com.
By the Numbers
Shots – 34
Saves – 29
Power Play – 0/4
Penalty Kill – 1/2
Goals – Dennison, Esposito, Kuntar, Zohovs
Assists – Ellis, Joyaux, Petrillo
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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 2017-18. 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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