YOUNGSTOWN, OH – The Youngstown Phantoms (17-19-5-1, 40 points) took an early lead and never looked back as they downed the Muskegon Lumberjacks 3-1 Friday night at the Covelli Centre.
“I thought we had a lot of jump in our step from the get-go,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “I’m proud of the guys, but I know we’re going to need better tomorrow.”
Youngstown grabbed a 1-0 lead before the game was five minutes old. Picking up a loose puck in his own end, Jayson Dobay floated it down the ice towards the Muskegon end. Matthew Cassidy caught up to the puck at the right circle of the Muskegon zone, cut in on net, and scored his 14th goal of the year, putting the Phantoms ahead at 4:56. “Matt’s been good, he’s been consistent,” said Patterson. “Bringing him in at the beginning of the year was a big lift for us. He’s tenacious on pucks, and we pride ourselves on that. Guys feed off of him.”
The Phantoms doubled their lead at the 7:25 mark of the second period. Dobay fired a shot from the top of the left circle that hit the post and settled down in the blue paint. With netminder Jon Williams (14 saves) out of position, Jan Kern took a few whacks at the puck and finally knocked it over the goal line for his fifth goal of the season and a 2-0 Youngstown lead.
Muskegon got on the board with a shorthanded goal 10:14 into the third period. As the puck trickled into the Youngstown end, Phantoms goaltender Dominic Basse (19 saves) and Muskegon forward Dylan Wendt both raced for the puck. Wendt was forced to dive past Basse and wasn’t able to take a shot, but kept control of the puck and, from his stomach, dropped it back to Cameron Berg who fired it into the empty net for his 17th of the season, cutting the Youngstown lead in half at 2-1. The Lumberjacks continued to push for the tying goal, but Ben Schoen scored on the empty net with 33.4 seconds left in regulation to cap off the night.
Youngstown and Muskegon play their final game of the season at the Covelli Center tomorrow night. The two teams play twice more in Michigan in the penultimate weekend of the season. With the win tonight, the Phantoms and the Lumberjacks are tied in the standings with 40 points as the teams battle for playoff positioning. Puck drop Saturday night is scheduled for 7:05pm Eastern, and the game will be broadcast on HockeyTv and Western Reserve Radio.
By the Numbers
Shots – 17
Saves – 19
Power Play – 0/3
Penalty Kill – 4/4
Goals – Cassidy, Kern, Schoen
Assists – Beaton, Dobay (2), Gallacher