MUSKEGON, MI – After surrendering a 3-2 lead with less than three minutes to go in the third period, Zach Metsa tallied his first USHL goal 2:42 into overtime to give the Youngstown Phantoms (4-4-2-1, 11 points) a 4-3 victory over the Muskegon Lumberjacks Saturday night at LC Walker Arena.
“We talked to the guys at the start of this year about how hard it is to win in this league and there’s never an easy game. Every night it’s a dogfight, no matter who you’re playing,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “Six of the first 11 we’ve gone to the extra session. These are good experiences for the guys to go through.”
Youngstown jumped in front at the 17:46 mark of the first period. With Youngstown on a 5-on-3 power play, Curtis Hall backhanded a rebound home past Adam Brizgala (27 saves) for his third goal of the year. “Curtis is a big body, he put in a lot of work over the summer to build his frame,” said Patterson. “He’s hard to get knocked off the puck.”
Muskegon struck twice during a two-minute span in the second period to jump out in front. Bobby Kaiser tied the game at 15:31 with his first goal of the season and Emilio Pettersen scored a power play goal with a nice redirect at 17:28 for his first of the campaign to put the Lumberjacks ahead 2-1.
For the second straight night, Youngstown had a third period comeback up their sleeves. Near the end of a penalty kill, Steven Holtz poked a puck out of his own end and into the neutral zone. Craig Needham darted to center and carried the puck down left wing. Needham cut to the middle and slid the puck cross ice to Holtz, who beat Brizgala at 8:59 for his first USHL goal, tying the game at 2. “Tremendous job by ‘Holtzy’,” said Patterson. “He made a big time play in an uncomfortable position.” The Phantoms retook the lead at 10:26 when Chase Gresock scored his third goal of the season, converting a rebound of a Max Ellis shot.
Youngstown couldn’t hold the lead however, as Vincent de May won a 1-on-1 battle with Jake Gingell and beat Ivan Prosvetov (31 saves) with a backhander from below the hashmarks to tie the game at 3 with 2:48 remaining in regulation and forcing overtime.
In the extra frame, Ellis won a puck battle in front of Brizgala, kicking the puck to his stick and managing to pass to Hall while falling to his stomach. Hall floated a pass toward the net, and Metsa redirected it past Brizgala for the game winner. “There (were) three guys with Max trying to get that puck from him,” said Patterson. “He had a second and a third effort to keep that puck alive. Great execution from Curtis over to Zach to put it in the net.”
Youngstown wraps up their five-game road trip with a Sunday matinee against these same Lumberjacks tomorrow afternoon at LC Walker Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:15pm Eastern and broadcasts will be available on Muskegon’s Nash Icon 92.5 and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 31
Saves – 31
Power Play – 1/4
Penalty Kill – 4/5
Goals – Hall, Holtz, Gresock, Metsa,
Assists – Barry, Ellis (2), Hall, Kislin, Needham, Thomson
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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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