YOUNGSTOWN, OH – A three-goal third period for the visitors broke a 2-2 tie as the Youngstown Phantoms (32-19-5-2, 71 points) fell to the Chicago Steel 5-2 Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.
“We need to be better in our own end,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “Once we started to push and press we got away from things on the defensive side of the puck. That’s an area we can address and we will.
Chicago opened the scoring at the 11:41 mark of the first period. Blake McLaughlin fired a wrist shot over Wouter Peeters (44 saves) for a power play goal, giving the Steel the 1-0 lead. Chicago doubled their lead 1:28 into the second period when Eric Otto lifted a shot over a down-and-out Peeters to put the Steel ahead 2-0. “We weren’t very good around our net,” said Patterson. “The hard areas of the ice that we’ve become accustomed to winning I felt like we weren’t very good at tonight.”
Youngstown got on the board 35 seconds later with a power play goal. Max Ellis stole a clearing attempt by Chicago, kept the puck in the zone along the blue line, brought it into the left circle, and snapped a wrist shot past Justin Robbins (40 saves) for his 17th goal of the season, cutting the Chicago lead to 2-1. The Phantoms tied the game at 9:14 when Jake Gingell’s shot hit Chase Gresock at the far post and ricocheted behind Robbins to knot the game up at 2-2. It was Gresock’s team leading 26th tally of the season.
Chicago regained the lead 3:27 into the third period and never looked back. After hemming the Phantoms in their own end for over a minute, Todd Goehring picked up a loose puck in front of the crease and roofed it past Peeters to put the Steel ahead for good. Matteo Pietroniro scored his third goal of the weekend with a blast from the left point at 5:17 to put the Steel ahead 4-2, and Brian Hurley scored on the empty net at 17:03 to cap off the scoring.
Despite the loss, thanks to the Fargo Force defeating the Green Bay Gamblers 4-1, the Phantoms clinched the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference and a bye into the Eastern Conference Semifinal in this year’s Clark Cup Playoffs. Green Bay can finish with no more than 69 points and the Phantoms already have 71, securing the second spot in the East.
The Phantoms return to the ice next Thursday morning for a School Day Game against the U17’s. Puck drop is scheduled for 10:00AM Eastern, and the game will be broadcast on HockeyTV and YPHR (Presented by Marco’s Pizza).
By the Numbers
Shots – 42
Saves – 44
Power Play – 1/3
Penalty Kill – 4/5
Goals – Ellis, Gresock
Assists – Abate, Gingell
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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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