BLOOMINGTON, IL – Three powerplay goals and a perfect four-for-four night on the penalty kill, including killing off a 1:43 five-on-three, helped the Youngstown Phantoms (9-5-2-1, 21 points) down the Central Illinois Flying Aces 5-1 at Grossinger Motors Arena Saturday night. The win moved the Phantoms into a tie with the Chicago Steel for first place in the USHL's Eastern Conference.
“We gave the guys two basic keys before the game: move your feet and keep putting pucks at the net,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “Both of those things I think added up to having success.”
Youngstown opened the scoring 3:48 into the first period when Curtis Hall scored his ninth goal of the season, beating Kris Carlson (8 saves) with a wrist shot from center point. Max Ellis was credited with the secondary assist on Hall’s goal, giving Ellis points in seven straight games. “(Max and Curtis) are hot right now,” said Patterson. “And it’s not just them scoring, it’s in all areas of the game.” Central Illinois tied the game at 11:59 when Jeremy Davidson roofed a shot over Wouter Peeters (18 saves) off a nice low-to-high play from Kyler Head.
The Phantoms retook the lead at 18:27 on Alex Barber’s third goal of the year. Barber loosed a wrist shot from the left point that found its way past Carlson. Barber has scored a goal in three of his last four games. “(Alex) has done a great job,” said Patterson. “I’m really happy he showed up on the score sheet tonight, because he deserves it.”
Youngstown extended its lead to 3-1 2:14 into the second period. Hall fired home a backhander after a tape-to-tape pass from Tommy Parrottino at the point. Hall’s second goal of the night came on the powerplay and gave the Phantoms a two-goal advantage. After Hall’s second goal, Zach Stejskal (9 saves) replaced Carlson in the Central Illinois net.
The Phantoms scored their second powerplay goal of the night at 6:49. Michael Regush attempted a cross-ice pass from below the goal line in the left corner, but the puck hit Stejskal in the crease and ricocheted into the net for Regush’s second goal of the campaign and a 4-1 Youngstown lead. The Youngstown penalty kill was tested when Jack Malone and Jake Gingell took penalties 17 seconds apart, resulting in a 1:43 five-on-three advantage for Central Illinois, but the Phantoms were able to preserve their three-goal lead. “The turning point for me was that five-on-three,” said Patterson. “Not a lot of shots got through, cleared the puck a couple different times, those are momentum generators.”
The final Youngstown tally of the night also came on the man advantage. Matthew Barry unleashed a full slap shot from the right circle and tucked it just inside the far post and under the cross bar for his fifth goal of the season and made up the final margin of victory at 5-1.
Youngstown returns to the ice on Friday night for a matchup with the United States National Team Development Program’s U17 squad. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05pm Eastern and broadcasts will be available on YPHR and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 22
Saves – 18
Power Play – 3/6
Penalty Kill – 4/4
Goals – Barber, Barry, Hall (2), Regush
Assists – Barry, Ellis, Gingell, Gresock, Joyaux, Metsa, Parrottino (2), 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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