GREEN BAY, WI – An early third period goal was all the offense Wouter Peeters needed. The Belgian netminder stopped all 39 shots he faced as the Youngstown Phantoms (28-18-5-1, 62 points) shutout the Green Bay Gamblers 1-0 Saturday night at the Resch Center.
“Wouter really kept us in that game, specifically in that first period” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “Credit to him, he deserved that one for sure.”
The first two periods were scoreless, which is not to say they were without action. Green Bay received three power plays in the first two periods, one of which came from a large post-whistle scrum in the second period that resulted in 30-combined penalty minutes and Green Bay’s Paul Maust receiving a game misconduct for removing Joey Abate’s helmet.
Youngstown scored the only goal of the game early in the third period. Abate found Eric Epsosito alone in the slot for a one-timer that beat Maksim Zhukov (18 saves) at 5:12 for his 15th goal of the year, giving the Phantoms all the scoring they would need. Green Bay rang one off the post and chipped another over a wide-open net in the waning moments, but Youngstown’s defense stood tall and held on for the shutout.
The win gives the Youngstown points in seven straight games and opens up a four-point cushion on the third place Muskegon Lumberjacks. The Phantoms’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot dropped to five, which means Youngstown could clinch the fifth playoff berth in team history as early as next weekend.
Youngstown continues their final road trip of the season next weekend as they travel to the capital of Nebraska to take on the Lincoln Stars in a two-game set beginning next Friday. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:05pm Eastern, and the game will be broadcast on HockeyTV and the Lincoln Stars Radio App.
By the Numbers
Shots – 19
Saves – 39
Power Play – 0/2
Penalty Kill – 3/3
Goals – Esposito
Assists – Abate, Cardelli
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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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