YOUNGSTOWN, OH – A pair of goals from both Matt Barry and Max Ellis combined with 31 saves from Ivan Prosvetov to help pace the Youngstown Phantoms (32-18-5-2, 71 points) to a 7-4 win over the Chicago Steel Friday night at the Covelli Centre.
“I thought there was a lot of momentum swings throughout,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “And that’s what we can expect going forward no matter who we play.”
Youngstown opened the scoring 13:43 into the first period. Just after a power play expired, Chase Gresock blasted a wrister from the top of the left circle through traffic and past Chicago netminder Justin Robbins (28 saves) for his 25th goal of the season, putting the Phantoms ahead 1-0. Chicago tied it at 17:08 with a power play blast from Matteo Pietroniro, making a 1-1 at the first intermission.
The Phantoms scored twice in the second to jump out to a 3-1 lead. Barry got his first of the night at 9:15, snapping a wrist shot from the left circle past Robbins, and Eric Esposito scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 19:15 to give the Phantoms that two-goal advantage at the end of the middle frame.
Chicago trimmed the Youngstown lead back to 3-2 at the 2:57 mark of the third period with a Jack Dugan 5-on-3 power play goal, but Youngstown answered back at the 4:10 a shorthanded goal from Barry to jump back ahead 4-2. Pietroniro blasted another power play goal past Prosvetov at 8:03 to get Chicago back within one at 4-3, and the Steel appeared to tie the game at 9:46, but a goal by Samuel Bucek was wiped off the board due to goaltender interference.
Youngstown used the momentum from the disallowed goal to score the next two goals and jump out to a commanding 6-3 lead. Both goals came off the stick of Ellis, one-touching a centering pass from Nick Cardelli for the first marker at 10:01 and firing home the rebound of a Michael Callahan shot at 11:54 to give the Phantoms the three-goal advantage. Ellis now has 16 goals on the year, more than tripling his five goals from last season.
The Steel pulled Robbins from the net with 3:25 remaining in regulation in an attempt to draw closer, but Curtis Hall scored on the empty net at 18:48 to remove all doubt from the outcome. Todd Goehring scored ten seconds after Hall’s goal to make up the final margin.
With the win, Youngstown’s magic number to clinch a first-round bye in the Clark Cup Playoffs is down to one. Any regulation loss by the Green Bay Gamblers or one single standings point for the Phantoms in the remaining three games of the season will guarantee a bye through the first round and home ice in the Eastern Conference Semifinal. Youngstown and Chicago conclude their season series tomorrow night with the Phantoms looking to go a perfect 6-0 against the Steel with a win. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05pm Eastern, and the game will be broadcast on HockeyTV and YPHR (Presented by Marco’s Pizza).
By the Numbers
Shots – 35
Saves – 31
Power Play – 0/4
Penalty Kill – 5/8
Goals – Barry (2), Ellis (2), Esposito, Hall, Gresock
Assists – Barry, Callahan, Cardelli, Dennison, Esposito, Hall, Holtz, Gingell, Joyaux, Malone
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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