Photo Credit: Joe Maenza
GENEVA, IL – The Youngstown Phantoms allowed five special teams goals en route to a 6-0 loss at the hands of the Chicago Steel in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Saturday night at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Chicago leads the best-of-five series two-games-to-none.
“If you look at the score line it’s definitely tough to stomach,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “If you look at the five-on-five play, I actually really liked us. Had a lot of opportunities, thought we were physical, thought we had energy. There was a good majority of that game where I really liked what our guys were doing.”
Reggie Lutz scored a pair of power play goals in the first period to give Chicago a 2-0 lead after one period of play. Lutz’s blast from the right circle at 6:05 ticked of the end of Ivan Kulbakov’s (12 saves) glove and into the net for the first marker of the night. Lutz’s second came on a one-time slapshot from center point at 7:56. Lutz leads the USHL with three goals through two games in these playoffs.
Chicago stretched their lead to 3-0 just 16 seconds into the second period with another special teams goal, this one shorthanded. After Kulbakov made an initial save on Chicago captain Marc Johnstone, the rebound popped into the low slot right to the tape of Jack Badini, who found the back of the net for his first goal of the playoffs. Mitch Lewandowski beat Kulbakov with a one-timer at 12:40 to give Chicago a 4-0 advantage. Badini scored on the power play at 16:08 for his second goal of the night, backhanding a rebound past Kulbakov to put Chicago up 5-0. After the fifth goal, Patterson lifted Kulbakov in favor of Britt League (5 saves).
Eduards Tralmaks scored the lone goal of the third period, beating League with a redirect for a power play goal at 5:09 on just the second shot League saw. Tralmaks’ goal was his first of the playoffs. Youngstown was 3-for-7 on the penalty kill and the power play was 0-for-5. Chicago goaltender Ales Stezka made 40 saves to earn the shutout; Steel defenseman Graham Lillibridge led all scorers with four points (all assists) on the night.
“I know a lot of (the players) are rattled at what happened tonight, and that will fuel us for Friday,” concluded Patterson. “When we play like that we’re a good hockey team.”
Youngstown will be playing to keep their season alive when the series switches to Youngstown and the Covelli Centre for Game 3 on Friday night at 7:05pm eastern. Broadcasts will be available on YPHR and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 40
Saves – 17
Power Play – 0/5
Penalty Kill – 3/7
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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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