YOUNGSTOWN, OH – Team USA scored five-unanswered goals, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 lead along the way to defeating the Youngstown Phantoms (31-19-1-4, 67 points) 6-2 at the Covelli Centre Wednesday morning, snapping Youngstown’s 10-game point streak.
“It felt a little bit like a teeter-totter of a game,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “I felt early in the game we had some really good pressure. We had some sustained looks, but then as the game goes, I felt the opposite towards the end of the game.”
Youngstown thought they opened the scoring at 9:39 of the first period, but Brett Murray’s attempt at breaking Sam Anas’ club-record of 37 goals in a season was wiped off the board when the referee said Murray kicked the puck into the net. The Phantoms did get on the board a minute-and-a-half later at 11:15. Jayson Dobay stole a puck at center and poked it over to Matt DeMelis. DeMelis and Dobay entered the zone and spread out, creating a 2-on-1 break from the blue line in. DeMelis drew the defense to him and found Dobay on the left side with a beautiful saucer pass, and Dobay fired a one-timer that beat Cameron Rowe (17 saves) for Dobay’s second goal of the year, giving Youngstown a 1-0 lead.
The Phantoms’ lead would only last for 10 seconds. Off the ensuing faceoff, Trevor Zegras got loose behind the Youngstown defense and snapped a wrister past Christian Stoever (26 saves), tying the game at 1-1. That was the first of five-unanswered goals for Team USA. Sean Farrell scored his first of the game 3:31 into the second period, sneaking a shot between Stoever’s rib cage and arm that trickled over the goal line to put USA ahead 2-1. Matthew Beniers finished a 3-on-2 rush at 15:45 to make it 3-1, and Farrell scored his second of the period when he added a shorthanded goal at 19:12 to give USA a 4-1 lead. Zegras snapped a wrist shot from the left circle past Stoever just 50 seconds into the third period to finish out the scoring streak for Team USA.
Youngstown got one back at the 7:01 mark of the third period. Nikolai Jenson fired a wrist shot from the left point that found its way through traffic and past Rowe for Jenson’s third goal of the season, cutting the USA lead to 5-2. Any thoughts of a Phantom comeback, however, were smothered by a suffocating USA defense that held Youngstown to just three shots in the third period. Matthew Boldy chipped a puck over Stoever and into the net for a power play goal with 27.9 seconds left in regulation to round out the scoring.
This was the first of four straight games against Team USA. Youngstown will travel up to Plymouth to take on the U17’s on Friday night before battling this same U18 squad again on Saturday in Michigan then back at the Covelli Centre on Sunday. Team USA now trails the Phantoms by just two points in the standings as the teams compete for either home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs or an even more important opening round bye. Youngstown remains three points behind the second-place Chicago Steel, who play the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders later tonight in Iowa. Youngstown and Cedar Rapids are currently tied for third place with 67 points, but Youngstown owns the first tie-breaker of Regulation + Overtime Wins. Puck drop Friday night against the U17’s is scheduled for 7:00 Eastern and the game will be broadcast on HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 19
Saves – 26
Power Play – 0/4
Penalty Kill – 2/3
Goals – Dobay, Jenson
Assists – Amonte, DeMelis, Needham