FARGO, ND – Nick Cardelli scored on the breakaway 6:32 into the first overtime to give the Youngstown Phantoms a 3-2 victory in Game Two of the Clark Cup Final.
“Nick has been a special addition for us,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “He’s producing here in the playoffs and has played a key role for us since he got here. That’s just the on-ice portion; he’s a terrific character in the locker room, guys rally around him. That’s something that’s instrumental in our program.”
Much like Game One, Youngstown was heavily penalized in the first period. Unlike Game One, the Phantoms did not surrender a power play goal to Fargo. In fact, the Youngstown penalty kill was 4-for-4 in the first period, 7-for-7 on the night. “You never want to give up that many opportunities on the PK,” said Patterson. “Being able to shut them down is huge, that’s a game changer for us, but at the same time it shouldn’t be a game changer, we need to be better.”
Fargo opened the scoring 4:24 into the second period. After initially being called “no goal” on the ice, a lengthy video review showed John Schuldt tapped a puck just across the goal line before it was quickly kicked out by Ivan Prosvetov (36 saves). The review appeared to show that the puck did completely cross the goal line and Schuldt was awarded his second goal of the playoffs, giving the Force a 1-0 lead.
Cardelli knotted the game up just under four minutes later. Max Ellis fired a shot-pass from the right point to Cardelli’s stick in the blue paint and past Strauss Mann (24 saves), tying the game at 1-1. Eric Esposito gave Youngstown the lead at 15:30 with a breakaway goal. Esposito slipped behind the Fargo defense at the Fargo line, walked down the slot, faked forehand, and flipped a backhander behind Mann to put the Phantoms ahead 2-1.
Fargo was called for slashing at 17:29 of the third period. After killing the first minute of the penalty, the Force were able to get Mann to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:05 remaining in regulation. Taking the play down into the Youngstown end, Grant Hebert stepped off the right wall and found Griffin Loughran in the slot. Loughran fired a wrist shot past Prosvetov to the glove side, tying the game at 2-2 with 52.6 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, Liam Dennison bodied a Fargo forward of the puck, allowing Joey Abate to carry it out of the Youngstown end and out to center. Abate fired a pass ahead to Cardelli at the Fargo line. Cardelli chipped the puck ahead, darted between two Fargo defenders, and caught up to the puck in the left circle. He faked to the backhand, and then slipped a forehand shot under Mann’s right leg and into the net for the game-winning goal.
The victory for Youngstown knots the best-of-five series at 1-1 as the championship round prepares to shift to northeastern Ohio for the first time. Puck drop for Game Three is scheduled for 7:05pm Eastern on Friday night at the Covelli Centre, and the game will be broadcast on HockeyTV and YPHR.
By the Numbers
Shots – 27
Saves – 36
Power Play – 1/4
Penalty Kill – 7/7
Goals – Cardelli (2), Esposito
Assists – Abate (2), Cardelli, Ellis, Esposito
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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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