YOUNGSTOWN, OH – The Youngstown Phantoms (12-5-3-1, 28 points) completed their fourth victory of the season when trailing entering the third period today by knocking off the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders by the final score of 2-1. Youngstown had lost their last 22 contests (0-19-3-0) entering the third period with a deficit of any kind at the start of the 2017-2018 season. They are 4-4-2-1 in their last 11 such games.
“That was a heck of a game,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “Both goaltenders played extremely well. I thought their goalie in the first period was the best player on the ice, I thought Wouter (Peeters) for a good chunk of that game was our best player on the ice.”
Cedar Rapids opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal just past the halfway mark of the first period. At the start of a power play, Tommy Parrottino won a faceoff over to Mike Regush. Regush attempted to pass the puck to Mike Joyaux at the left point but fanned on the pass. RoughRiders captain Marc McLaughlin poked the puck past Joyaux and went streaking down the right wing. He let go a wrist shot from the right dot that beat Peeters (20 saves) to the blocker side at 9:58 for his third goal of the season, giving Cedar Rapids the 1-0 lead. “(The Cedar Rapids penalty kill) was very good,” said Patterson. “I thought our execution and our retrievals were lacking in intensity, but I thought in the third period that intensity ramped up.”
Youngstown tied the game at 11:28 of the third, thanks to the first goal as a Phantom for Joey Abate. Abate started the play by beating out an icing call. Taking the puck off the end wall, he almost scored on Blake Pietila (30 saves) by sneaking one off the back of Pietila’s right skate, but Pietila made the save and the rebound bounced out to the point. Zach Metsa kept the puck in the offensive zone and played it to Eric Esposito. Esposito carried the puck down the wall and found Abate alone in the slot. Abate fired a wrist shot from the hashmarks that went off the tip of Pietila’s glove and trickled across the goal line for Abate’s second goal of the season. “We talked about between the second and third period being hard to play against, having good habits” said Patterson. “Joey races down an icing call, beats it out, we have possession of the puck, puck ends up back on his stick six (or) seven seconds later, and he puts it in the back of the net. That’s all based off of hard work, that play doesn’t happen if he doesn’t have good habits.”
After a scoreless overtime period, the game went to a shootout. Marek Valek scored for Cedar Rapids to give them a 1-0 lead in the top of the first round, but Max Ellis tied the shootout at 1 after converting on his chance in the bottom of the second for Youngstown. The next four shooters were stopped for the RoughRiders, as were the next three shooters for the Phantoms, but Esposito won the shootout for Youngstown by beating Pietila with a snapshot from the hashmarks in the bottom of the sixth.
Ellis and Parrottino both saw their respective scoring streaks snapped, Ellis at 10 games and Parrottino at five. Youngstown has points in 12 of its last 13 games and remains in first place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference. Peeters stopped 20 of 21 Cedar Rapids shots and five of six in the shootout to earn his first skills competition victory, sixth overall on the season.
Youngstown and Cedar Rapids will conclude their series on Friday night at the Covelli Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05pm eastern and broadcasts will be available on YPHR and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 31
Saves – 21
Power Play – 0/3
Penalty Kill – 2/2
Goals – Abate
Assists – Esposito, Metsa
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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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