GENEVA, IL – After allowing the Chicago Steel to overcome a three-goal deficit, the Youngstown Phantoms (18-14-4-1, 41 points) needed a 2-0 victory in a shootout to come out of Fox Valley Ice Arena with a 4-3 victory Saturday night and sweep the weekend series from Chicago.
“Anytime you go on a road swing out to Chicago, play two games, and come away with four points you’ve got to be happy,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “That being said I think we can be much better, there were areas of our game where we did struggle…There were some things I did like: the PK, stepping in shot lanes, being opportunistic offensively, but I think we can be better and we will.”
Youngstown opened the scoring with a power play goal just 57 seconds into the game. Chase Gresock blasted a one-timer from the right circle for his team-leading 18th goal of the season to put the Phantoms ahead 1-0 just 25 seconds into the power play.
The Phantoms doubled their lead 3:33 into the second period. Mike Regush got behind the Chicago defense on a breakaway and snapped a wrist shot past James Robbins (20 saves) for his 11th goal of the year to put Youngstown ahead 2-0.
Another Phantoms breakaway resulted in a goal later in the period. After Mike Joyaux knocked his man off the puck at the Youngstown blue line, Tommy Parrottino collected the puck and sprung Max Ellis loose down the right side. Ellis’ wrister from the right dot was perfectly placed just inside the far post and gave the Phantoms a commanding 3-0 lead 11:46 into the second period.
Chicago scored once in the second and twice in the third to tie the game. Nick Abruzzese scored at 13:25 of the second to cut the Phantoms’ lead to 3-1. In the third period, Robert Mastrosimone converted on a bouncing puck that popped up in the air and trickled down Ivan Prosvetov’s (39 saves) back and into the net at 6:55 to get the Steel within one at 3-2, and Aaro Vidgren was able to tap in a backdoor pass with just one hand on his stick as he flew by the net at 15:05 to tie the game at 3-3. Chicago outshot the Youngstown 19-3 in the third period as they completed the comeback to force overtime. “I thought we played on our heels (in the third period),” said Patterson. “You can’t change the way you play based on a score line. Let’s give Chicago some credit, I thought they were really moving the puck and skating well, but at the same time we’ve got to look in the mirror, we’ve got to be better in those areas.”
The Steel almost ended the game moments into the extra frame, but Prosvetov came well out of his crease to rob the USHL’s leading scorer Jack Dugan of the game-winning goal with a glove save. Chicago dominated the overtime and outshot the Phantoms 3-0, but could not score and the shootout was required to decide the winner.
In the tiebreaker, Ellis scored in the top of the first round to put Youngstown ahead, beating Robbins with a triple-deke to the forehand and tucking the puck into the net just around Robbin’s outstretched left toe. Vidgren was unsuccessful in the bottom of the first for Chicago; Matt Barry and Blake McLaughlin were both stopped in the second round on their attempts. Regush converted his attempt in the top of the third, snapping a wrist shot past Robbins from just below the hashmarks on the left side of the slot to give Youngstown the victory.
With the weekend sweep, the Phantoms extend their winning streak to four games and move into second place in the Eastern Conference, eight points behind Team USA and one point clear of the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Youngstown continues their road trip next Friday and Saturday night by heading out to Sioux City to do battle with the Musketeers. Puck drop both nights is scheduled for 8:05pm Eastern and the games will be broadcast on HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 23
Saves – 39
Power Play – 1/3
Penalty Kill – 6/6
Goals – Ellis, Gresock, Regush
Assists – Barry (2), Holtz, Joyaux, Parrottino (2)
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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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