YOUNGSTOWN, OH – After having a goal waived off just 30 seconds into the game, the Muskegon Lumberjacks kept their foot on the gas en route to four first-period goals as they downed the Youngstown Phantoms (28-16-4-1, 61 points) 5-1 Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.
“(I’m) very disappointed in our start,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “We weren’t winning one-on-one battles. I thought we were on our heels instead of being on our toes. We weren’t aggressive, and for us to be successful we need to be.”
After an attempt by Anthony Del Gaizo was waived off 30 seconds into the game after being batted in by a high stick, Muskegon did take a 1-0 lead at 1:15 when former Phantoms defenseman Ty Farmer floated a wrist shot from the left point through Ivan Kulbakov’s (7 saves) five-hole. Collin Adams made it 2-0 at 9:42, and Mikael Hakkarainen upped the score to 3-0 at 12:52, chasing Kulbakov from the net. “(This is) not on Ivan Kulbakov at all,” said Patterson. Britt League (11 saves) entered the game, seeing his first action since January 6, a game in which he also replaced Kulbakov against Muskegon. Rookie sensation Andrei Svechnikov greeted League rudely, beating him on the second shot he saw to extend the Muskegon lead to 4-0.
Youngstown finally got on the board during a penalty-filled second period. Curtis Hall snapped a wrist shot over the shoulder of Muskegon goaltender Keith Petruzzelli (29 saves) at 5:44 for his seventh goal of the year. The second period also featured a fight between Alex Esposito and Travis Mitchell and a tussle between Pierce Crawford and Zach Berzolla. Youngstown had several great scoring opportunities during a few power plays, but Petruzzelli was able to hold the Phantoms to the lone goal. The teams combined for 132 penalty minutes in the game, 68 of them coming in the second period. Svechnikov scored on a wrap-around at 10:02 of the third period to wrap up the scoring.
“Right off the jump, I think they wanted it more,” concluded Patterson. “It’s tough to say those words, but that’s got to be a lesson learned once and can’t happen again. I liked our push back, but at the same time you can’t dig yourself a hole like that, it’s a tough one to come out of.”
With the win, Muskegon clinched the season series against Youngstown, something which may have tie-breaking implications down the road when it comes to playoff seeding. The win also allowed Muskegon to leap frog the Phantoms in the standings by one point, dropping Youngstown back in to fourth place. The Phantoms have a five-point lead over fifth-place Green Bay with 11 games remaining. Youngstown hosts Green Bay next weekend as the Gamblers make their lone trip of the season to the Covelli Centre. Youngstown won their only previous matchup with the Gamblers on Thanksgiving Eve 4-1 at the Resch Centre in Wisconsin. Puck drops for the Friday and Saturday games against Green Bay are both scheduled for 7:05pm Eastern and broadcasts will be available on YPHR and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 30
Saves – 18
Power Play – 0/5
Penalty Kill – 6/6
Goals – Hall
Assists – Estes, Moise
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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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