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By Matthew Lipcsak, 04/21/18, 11:00PM EDT


Youngstown takes 2-0 lead in Eastern Conference Semifinal



YOUNGSTOWN, OH – Sam Salonen’s goal with 5:20 remaining in regulation gave the Youngstown Phantoms their first lead of the game, but that was all the Phantoms needed as they hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Dubuque Fighting Saints in Game Two of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.

“(Dubuque) made some adjustments, and that was kind of our expectation,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “We lacked a little bit of hunt that we had a real good job of last night. In the second period we started to make a few little adjustments of our own…and I really liked our game in the third.”

After a scoreless first period, Dubuque scored just 38 seconds into the second to grab a 1-0 lead. Quinn Preston one-touched a puck past Ivan Prosvetov (30 saves) off a nice pass from Alex Steeves to put the Saints ahead. Youngstown tied the game at 5:40. With Saints’ netminder Cole Weaver (17 saves) playing the puck behind the net, Matt Barry stole a pass and found a crashing Curtis Hall, who fired a one-timer from the right dot into the net just before Weaver could get back into position, knotting the game at 1-1. “(Matt) was a driving force,” said Patterson. “He doesn’t just throw pucks, he creates from it. You don’t teach that, Matt has it.”

Dubuque regained the lead almost exactly two minutes later. Jan Kern and Viktor Bovbel were hammering away at a puck at Prosvetov’s left, but a final stab by Bovbel forced the puck to the weak side where former Phantom Dalton Hunter poked the puck into the net at 7:44 to put Dubuque ahead 2-1.

Youngstown tied the game late in the period thanks to another great play by Barry. As Dubuque was trying to bring the puck up ice on a power play, Barry anticipated a drop pass and poked the puck into open ice, just inside the Dubuque line. Barry chased the puck down, walked in on net, and fired a shot that Weaver saved initially, but the rebound trickled down his back and into the net, knotting the game at 2-2.

The game remained tied until the 14:40 mark of the third period. Nick Cardelli won a puck battle along the right-wing wall of the Saints’ zone and forced the puck to Hall. With the attention of all Dubuque’s defensemen focused on Hall, Salonen sneaked down the slot behind everyone, took the pass from Hall, and beat Weaver with a one-timer to the blocker side to give Youngstown its first lead of the game at 3-2. “(Sam) has a tremendous shot,” said Patterson. “I felt he had a really good game. Probably played more tonight than he has the past few games, and that’s a credit to him. We talk about guys stepping up and contributing for our playoff run, and Sammy did that tonight.”

With a two-games-to-none series lead in their pocket, the Phantoms turn their eyes westward as they prepare to make the trip to Iowa for Game Three on Tuesday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:05pm Eastern, and the game will be broadcast on HockeyTV and Dubuque Super Hits 106.


By the Numbers

Shots – 20

Saves – 30

Power Play – 0/1

Penalty Kill – 4/4

Goals – Barry, Hall, Salonen

Assists – Barry, Cardelli, Hall, Gresock



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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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