LINCOLN, NE – Two goals from Mike Regush and a 34-save shutout by Wouter Peeters pushed the Youngstown Phantoms (29-18-5-1, 64 points) past the Lincoln Stars 3-0 at the Ice Box Friday night, snapping Lincoln’s 10-game winning streak.
“Slow start for sure,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “We come out of the first period up, I don’t know if we deserved that per se, but I thought the second period we were much better, and the third period I really liked our game.”
Regush opened the scoring just beyond the midway point of the opening period. Running the give-and-go with Chase Gresock, Regush accepted the return pass inside the left circle. Forcing his way to the cage on the backhand, Regush quickly flipped to his forehand and elevated the puck over Tomas Vomacka (17 saves) at 13:19 for his 16th goal of the season and a 1-0 Youngstown lead.
The Phantoms lit the lamp on the power play moments later to double their lead. Regush used a screen by Jack Malone and a blazing wrist shot from the right circle to beat Vomacka for his second goal of the night, 17th of the year, to give Youngstown a 2-0 lead at 14:34. “Mike was good in all areas (tonight),” said Patterson. “We’ve really been on Mike lately, because he’s got a great shot, he’s a little reluctant to use it, sometimes, and that second one he gets tonight, he fires that thing and makes no mistake.”
The second period was scoreless, thanks in large part to Peeters and the Phantoms penalty kill. Youngstown got caught for 1:18 in the always-dangerous 4-on-3 disadvantage, but the Phantoms managed to keep Lincoln off the scoreboard and preserve their 2-0 lead. “That kill was huge,” said Patterson. “We really kept them to the perimeter…we did a great job of protecting the house and really limiting them on entries.”
Youngstown added an insurance goal on the power play at 8:56 of the third period. Tommy Parrottino’s wrist shot was redirected on net by Regush, but the rebound lay loose in the crease and Malone swept it home for his third goal of the season, making up the final margin. “I’m shocked Jack hasn’t been on the scoresheet more, but he’s being rewarded for the work he’s been putting in,” said Patterson. “He makes a great second effort on his goal.”
Peeters’ shutout was his third of the season and second in a row, the first back-to-back shutouts by a Phantoms’ goaltender since Sean Romeo shutout the U17’s in consecutive contests in late November 2012. The Belgian netminder has gone 172:49 without allowing a goal, seeing his goals-against average drop from 3.25 to 2.90 and his save percentage climb from .891 to .903. Peeters has won seven of his last eight starts. “Wouter was good tonight,” said Patterson. “I don’t think there were a ton of grade ‘A’ chances, but he was square, he was down. I thought we did a great opportunity limiting second opportunities and rebounds, and as the game went I really felt that any time the puck was in our end he was a really steadying force back there.”
The win, combined with an overtime loss by Cedar Rapids, means that Youngstown can potentially clinch a playoff spot tomorrow night with a win and any form of a loss by the RoughRiders. Cedar Rapids faces the Green Bay Gamblers tomorrow night.
Youngstown and Lincoln wrap up their season series Saturday night at the Ice Box. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:35pm Eastern and the game will be broadcast on HockeyTV and Lincoln Stars Online Radio.
By the Numbers
Shots – 20
Saves – 34
Power Play – 2/3
Penalty Kill – 2/2
Goals – Malone, Regush (2)
Assists – Gresock, Joyaux (2), Malone, Parrottino, Regush
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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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