PLYMOUTH, MI – Joey Abate’s goal with 1:11 remaining in regulation broke a 2-2 tie and pushed the Youngstown Phantoms (30-18-5-2, 67 points) past the United States National Team Development Program’s U18 squad 3-2 Friday night at USA Hockey Arena.
“Good result against a very, very good team,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “The guys know every time they face them it’s a very tough challenge…I thought continuously tonight, it didn’t matter who we put on the ice, everyone played a significant role, and that’s what we need.”
USA opened the scoring, taking the 1-0 lead at the 8:53 mark of the first period. Rookie sensation Jack Hughes controlled the puck down low for over ten seconds before he was finally able to shake his defender and beat Wouter Peeters (26 saves) with a wraparound for his 21st goal of the year in just 27 games.
Youngstown answered back with a power play goal just over two minutes into the second period. Nick Cardelli found Matt Barry wide open in the left circle, and Barry one-timed the puck into a yawning net. NTDP netminder Drew DeRidder (13 saves) was screened on the play and never saw the puck go to Barry, leaving the net open for Barry’s blast from the left dot, his 15th goal of the campaign.
The Phantoms took the lead later in the period off an odd-man break. Entering the USA zone in a three-on-one rush, Abate passed to Chase Gresock on the left side. From the top of that left circle, Gresock loosed a wrist shot that beat Spenser Knight (15 saves) to the blocker side to give the Phantoms a 2-1 lead. The goal was Gresock’s 23rd of the year, almost doubling his 12-goal output from last season.
Team USA tied the game at 9:29 of the third period when Jon Gruden roofed a shot from the right circle over Peeters’ shoulder, but just when the game looked destined for overtime, Abate jumped in to play the hero. Craig Needham redirected Michael Callahan’s shot from the left point on net, but the rebound sat loose in the left circle. Needham whiffed on a shot attempt, causing Knight to drop into the butterfly, and then Abate came in and roofed the puck into the far corner for his sixth goal of the season, giving the Phantoms a 3-2 lead. “(Joey) is tenacious,” said Patterson. “Joey’s one of those guys where it doesn’t matter how many guys are coming after him, he’s going to move his feet, he’s going to finish his check, he’s going to make them take him away from the puck…that goal doesn’t happen if he’s not willing to go to those hard areas.” USA pulled Knight off the ensuing faceoff, but the Youngstown defense held firm to secure the victory.
With the win, the Phantoms are now five points ahead of the Muskegon Lumberjacks for second place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference. Youngstown needs to win three of its five remaining games to clinch that second-place spot, which includes a bye through the first round of the playoffs. The Phantoms begin a five-game homestand tomorrow afternoon at the Covelli Centre with a matchup with the U17’s. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:05pm Eastern, and the game will be broadcast on YPHR and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 31
Saves – 26
Power Play – 1/5
Penalty Kill – 5/5
Goals – Abate, Barry, Gresock
Assists – Abate, Callahan, Cardelli, Needham, Regush
For all the latest news, follow the Phantoms on Twitter (@YtownPhantoms) and ‘Like’ them on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/YoungstownPhantoms). A full version of the Phantoms 2017-18 season schedule, as well as season tickets and mini-plan packages, is available now by visiting www.YoungstownPhantoms.com. Ticket packages can also be purchased by calling (330) 747-PUCK.
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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