PLYMOUTH, MI – A late goal by Eric Esposito helped the Youngstown Phantoms (12-9-3-1, 28 points) avoid a shutout, but Spencer Knight (31 saves) was spectacular in the NTDP net as the Phantoms fell to the US National Team Development Program’s U17 squad 4-1 on Saturday night at USA Hockey Arena to wrap up the 2017 portion of their schedule. The Phantoms have now lost four in a row, their longest losing streak of the year.
“I liked our first period,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “I thought as time went our net front presence wasn’t great. That’s something that can be improved. We gave up a couple of line rushes, we weren’t driving the net, just some small details that maybe when you’re a little bit tired that you stray away from. I thought as time went they did a good job of keeping us away from it.”
After a scoreless first period, Ryder Rolston opened the scoring at 3:20 of the second, knocking a rebound past Ivan Prosvetov (23 saves), who thought he had the puck frozen on the opposite side of the crease. Judd Caufield doubled the USA lead just 48 seconds into the third period, blasting a wrist shot through Prosvetov from the high slot. Matt Boldy gave USA a 3-0 advantage at 6:21, and Rolston scored his second of the night at 13:22 for a 4-0 lead for the home team.
Youngstown broke up the shutout bid at 16:01 of the third thanks to Esposito. Esposito stripped Domenick Fensore of the puck at the USA blue line and went in alone on Knight. Esposito deked forehand-to-backhand and lifted the puck over Knight’s right leg and into the net for his seventh goal of the year and the lone tally of the night for the Phantoms.
Youngstown continues this five-game road trip to open the 2018 portion of their schedule, traveling next to Cedar Rapids on January 5th and 6th for a pair of games against the RoughRiders. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:05pm Eastern on the 5th and the game will be available on HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 32
Saves – 23
Power Play – 0/1
Penalty Kill – 1/1
Goals – Esposito
Assists – none
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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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