YOUNGSTOWN, OH – The Youngstown Phantoms (22-17-4-1, 49 points) played a strong first period, but it was not enough to defeat the hottest team in the USHL, as Youngstown fell to the Omaha Lancers 4-1 Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.
“I thought we were a bit better than last night,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “But at the end of the day ‘better’ isn’t at the bar that we’ve set. I thought we had a couple of good weeks coming into this and we’d set the bar high for ourselves, and I don’t think we got to that level this weekend.”
Youngstown opened the scoring early in the first period. John Larkin crashed the right post and tapped home the rebound of a Nick Cardelli shot to put the Phantoms ahead 1-0 4:11 into the game. It was Larkin’s first USHL goal, coming in his fifth game since being called up from the Phantoms’ affiliate list. “Usually guys like that (affiliate players) come in and you’re kind of spotting them in in different situations, but he’s come in to a situation where we have guys that play heavy minutes that are out…it’s not like he’s jumped into the USHL and played sparingly, he’s had to play in just about every situation…it’s a credit to him, I think he gets more comfortable every game and the sky’s the limit for him.”
Omaha tied the game just past the midway point of the first. Jesper Peltonen floated a wrist shot from the right half-wall past Ivan Prosvetov’s blocker at 11:09 to knot things up at 1-1. It was Peltonen’s first USHL goal as well.
Jack Randl gave the Lancers the lead at 11:40 of the second, snapping a wrist shot past Prosvetov from below the hashmarks on a breakaway. Filip Suchy scored a redirect goal 37 seconds into the third period to put Omaha ahead 3-1, and Noah Cates tapped home a power play goal at 9:02 to account for the final margin.
The loss, coupled with a Dubuque win in Sioux Falls tonight, drops the Phantoms into third place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference with 15 regular season games remaining for Youngstown. The top six teams in each conference qualify for the Clark Cup playoffs, with the top two seeds earning byes to the conference quarterfinals.
Youngstown returns to the ice tomorrow afternoon as they’ll travel north to take on the U18’s. Puck drop at USA Hockey Arena is scheduled for 3:05pm Eastern and the game will be available on HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 19
Saves – 31
Power Play – 0/5
Penalty Kill – 1/2
Goals – Larkin
Assists – Cardelli, Hall
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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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