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By Matthew Lipcsak, 04/12/18, 2:00PM EDT


Esposito becomes second Phantoms to eclipse 20-goal plateau this season



YOUNGSTOWN, OH – The Youngstown Phantoms (32-19-5-2, 71 points) hung five goals on Team USA in the second period 13 days ago. Today, Team USA returned the favor. The United States National Team Development Program’s U17 squad put up five goals on the Phantoms in the second period Thursday morning at the Covelli Centre along the way to a 6-2 win in front of more than 4,300 fans in attendance for the annual School Day Game.

“I think the game was dictated in that twelve-to-fifteen-minute lull we had in the second period,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “The energy, the drive, all the things you want, I didn’t feel like we had a great period of that, and as a result a few end up in the back of your net, and if you do that against a team like that, it’s going to get there (a loss).”

The game got off to a great start for the Phantoms, jumping out to a 2-0 lead at the first intermission. Both goals came off the stick of team captain Eric Esposito. Esposito blazed a trail down the left side of the ice and beat Cameron Rowe (32 saves) with a backhander from in tight at 11:16 to give Youngstown the 1-0 lead. Esposito cashed in with a power play goal at 17:14, chipping the puck past Rowe during a net-front scramble. Esposito now has 20 goals on the second, second on the team behind Chase Gresock’s 26. “When Eric does the things that make him successful, he’s very hard to stop,” said Patterson. “he’s got a great shot, we want him to use it more, and he has progressively over the season. When he moves his feet and drives to the hard areas, he’s been very good. For Eric to see the success right now, I know he’s going to be a big piece moving forward for us. I’m very happy for him.”

Team USA opened their scoring at 4:56 of the second period with a power play goal from Ryder Rolston and tied the game on a backhander from Trevor Zegras at 10:34. Just 21 seconds after tying the game, Ryan Siedem gave USA the lead at 10:55, jumping into the play and beating Wouter Peeters (24 saves) with a shot from between the circles. Patrick Moynihan got credit for a goal at 11:30 after redirecting a shot from the point past Peeters, and Michael Gildon shoveled a puck behind Peeters during a battle at the edge of the crease to cap off the second period scoring for the NTDP. “The guys every game this year have fought tooth and nail for every minute, and I think that wasn’t there today,” said Patterson. “That’s the main difference to me (between the first and second period).”

Peeters left the game at 11:32 of the third period, giving way to Ivan Prosvetov. Prosvetov stopped eight-of-nine shots, giving up a goal to Danny Weight at 15:55 of the third period to cap off the scoring.

Youngstown wraps up the 2017-2018 regular season Saturday night with a game against the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Puck drop on Fan Appreciation Night 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 – 34

Saves – 32

Power Play – 1/2

Penalty Kill – 1/3

Goals – Esposito (2)

Assists – Cardelli, Malone (2)



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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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