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By Matthew Lipcsak, 10/28/17, 11:45PM EDT


Eric Esposito and Max Ellis both scored shorthanded goals



MUSKEGON, MI – Within a goal with under two minutes to play, the Youngstown Phantoms (2-4-1-1, 6 points) were unable to find an equalizer and the Muskegon Lumberjacks scored a pair of empty net goals to secure a 5-2 victory Saturday night at LC Walker Arena.

I thought it was very similar to that battle last night,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “(We) had plenty of opportunities, gave ourselves a shot in the arm in the third, made it a game, had plenty of chances, but ultimately couldn’t get that third one.”

Muskegon scored a power play goal late in the first period to gain a 1-0 lead. Anthony Del Gaizo slid a rebound under Wouter Peeters (11 saves) at 14:12 for his second goal of the year. Clayton Phillips, who scored a goal against the Phantoms two weeks ago as a member of the Fargo Force, burned Youngstown again, pumping a point shot past Peeters at 4:46 of the second to put the ‘Jacks up 2-0. Del Gaizo scored his second of the game, third of the season, at 8:40 on a redirect to give Muskegon a commanding 3-0 lead. After the second Del Gaizo goal, Patterson pulled Peeters in favor of Ivan Prosvetov (9 saves). “At that stage, I just wanted to slow it down and get some more momentum,” said Patterson. “I don’t want to throw Wouter under the bus, he made a couple big stops prior to that, but I got Ivan in there to change the momentum of the game, and he did a great job when he went in.”

Youngstown came roaring back, scoring two shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill midway through the third period. Eric Esposito won a puck battle at the Muskegon blue line and lasered a wrist shot past the blocker of Adam Brizgala (22 saves) for his second goal of the year, first shorthanded, to put the Phantoms on the board at 8:25, trailing 3-1. Max Ellis scored the second shorthanded goal of the kill 1:25 later at 9:50. After a clear by Zach Metsa, Brizgala came out of the net to play the puck. Brizgala fanned on his pass attempt, and the puck rolled to the mouth of the crease. From there, the on-charging Ellis slid the puck into the net for his first goal of the season and cut the Muskegon lead to 3-2. “I felt like the guys that were out on the kill tonight were hopping, and ultimately they got rewarded,” said Patterson.

Youngstown pulled Prosvetov with 2:35 remaining in regulation as they searched for the tying goal. The Phantoms had a very nice look off a one-timer from Matthew Barry with Esposito providing a screen in front, but Brizgala was able to reach out and make a glove save. After denying Youngstown that opportunity to tie the game, the Lumberjacks got empty net goals from Matej Pekar and Bray Crowder to make up the final margin.

Youngstown continues their five-game road trip with a stop on the other side of Michigan next Friday night in Plymouth to take on the USNTDP U18 squad. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05pm and the game will be broadcast on HockeyTV.


By the Numbers

Shots – 24

Saves – 20

Power Play – 0/5

Penalty Kill – 3/4

Goals – Ellis, Esposito

Assists – Regush, 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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