YOUNGSTOWN, OH – A five-goal second period turned a 1-0 hole into a 5-1 lead along the way to a 6-1 victory for the Youngstown Phantoms (31-18-5-2, 69 points) over the United States National Team Development Program’s U17 squad Saturday afternoon at the Covelli Centre.
“Once we got going, I thought we were pretty good,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson.
USA opened the scoring just before the midway point of the first period. Judd Caufield came out of a scrum in the corner with the puck and threw a backhanded pass to Marshall Warren. Warren’s one-timer from the left hashmarks beat Phantoms netminder Ivan Prosvetov (31 saves) at 9:32 to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Team USA carried that advantage to the locker room at the end of the first period before the Youngstown offense woke up. “The message to the team going into the second was just to simplify,” said Patterson. “I don’t know how many body checks we threw in the first, but I could probably count them on one hand. I felt like we had more turnovers in the first period than we did all of last night, and those are things that you need to shore up. Just be crisp and go through bodies, and I felt like from the first shift of the second period we corrected that.”
The correction started with a power play goal 4:32 into the second period. It took just eight seconds from a faceoff win for Eric Esposito to tap home a backdoor feed from Max Ellis, tying the game at 1-1.
Youngstown took the lead at 7:15. Mike Regush ran a give-and-go with Matt Barry inside the right circle, and Regush’s shot from the high slot beat Cameron Rowe (31 saves) high to the glove side for his 18th goal of the season, putting the Phantoms ahead 2-1. Nick Cardelli gave Youngstown a 3-1 lead at 11:16, running a give-and-go of his own with Joey Abate, charging the net and snapping a shot off all three posts and in for his seventh goal of the season. Chase Gresock added to the Youngstown tally with a power play goal at 13:50, snapping a one-timer past Rowe at 13:50 for his team-leading 24th goal of the campaign, putting the Phantoms ahead 4-1. Max Ellis converted on a 2-on-1 with Tommy Parrottino at 16:48 for his 14th marker of the season, giving Youngstown their fifth goal of the period and a 5-1 lead.
Esposito put the exclamation point on the victory, tapping home a centering pass from Abate at 7:39 of the third period for his second goal of the game, 17th of the season, capping off the 6-1 victory. “(Eric) has been a big piece for us,” said Patterson. “He’s got a nose for the net. He gets there and he’s not afraid to take a beating while he’s on his way.”
With the win and Muskegon’s loss to Omaha tonight, Youngstown’s magic number to clinch the second seed in the Eastern Conference is down to two. With six teams in each conference making the playoffs this year, a team in the top-two receives a bye to the quarterfinals in their conference. The Phantoms will look to clinch that spot next weekend as they welcome the Chicago Steel to the Covelli Centre for a two-game set. Puck drop for game one of the series on Friday night is scheduled for 7:05pm Eastern, and the game will be broadcast on YPHR and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 37
Saves – 31
Power Play – 2/3
Penalty Kill – 4/4
Goals – Cardelli, Ellis, Esposito (2), Gresock, Regush
Assists – Abate (2), Barry (2), Callahan, Cardelli, Ellis, Esposito, Joyaux, Messina, Prosvetov
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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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