Plymouth, MI - A penalty shot and an extra frame was needed, but the Youngstown Phantoms took game one of the Eastern Conference Final 4-3 over the U-17s of the National Team Development Program.
Team USA came out flying in the first five minutes of the period. They would take the lead early just 3:45 into the game off the stick of Patrick Moynihan.
The Phantoms would pick up the physicality but would find themselves shorthanded as a result. During the PK, Max Ellis (2pts) would find a loose puck and turn on the afterburners that led to a 2 on 1 opportunity and Ellis buried it top shelf.
“Odd man rushes both ways had a huge impact on the game. It was all about capitalizing on the opportunities that we did have.,” Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson said. “Those opportunities stem from moving your feet and I thought we progressively got better at that throughout the game.”
Another odd man rush would give the Phantoms the lead just 3:04 later as Joey Abate (3pts) would net his third of the playoffs courtesy of a nice feed from Nicholas Cardelli (4pts).
The U-17’s would fight back however and would capitalize on a bad break as Erik Middendorf was able to net one shorthanded on a 2 on none breakaway 4:05 into the second frame. Matthew Boldy would put the NTDP up by 1 after some great individual defensive work in the Phantoms zone which he was rewarded for with a goal.
The third period started out as a back and forth affair but a couple of timely saves from Ivan Prosvetov (37 saves) kept the Phantoms within one. With momentum on their side the Phantoms were able to put the offensive pressure on the U-17s and would get pucks and bodies to the net. One of those bodies was Phantoms Captain Eric Esposito (2pts) who was able to pound home a loose puck to tie the game at 3 with 6:42 remaining in regulation.
The Phantoms would have some great grade-A opportunities late including a penalty shot by Matt Barry (6pts), and a shot at the buzzer from Chase Gresock (3pts), but Cameron Rowe (31 saves) was able to stifle the Phantoms furious attack to send the game to overtime.
Patterson’s message to the team was simple, “Never be frustrated when you do get chances. Eventually when you play the right way, you are positive, and you have energy one will go in the back of the net.”
Energy would not be a problem for either team as both teams came out strong to start the overtime period. The Phantoms would eventually gain possession in the offensive zone and Michael Joyaux (3pts) would fire a wrister from the right point through traffic that found the back of the twine to give the Phantoms the overtime win.
The Phantoms now lead the best of 5 series 1-0.
Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final is tomorrow at USA Hockey Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 Eastern and broadcasts are available on HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 33
Saves – 29
Power Play – 0/3
Penalty Kill – 4/4
Goals – Ellis, Abate, Esposiot, Joyaux
Assists – Cardelli, Joyaux, Cardelli, Ellis
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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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