YOUNGSTOWN, OH – Bartek Bison’s goal with 6:53 remaining in regulation broke a 2-2 tie as the Youngstown Phantoms dropped Game Three of the 2018 Clark Cup Final to the Fargo Force by a final score of 3-2. Fargo grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
“I thought it was a great game, great energy in the building,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “I liked our effort, but at the end of the day it didn’t go for us, but if we work that hard tomorrow we give ourselves a good opportunity.”
Fargo opened the scoring 13:40 into the first period. After a turnover in the neutral zone, Grant Hebert found former Phantom Griffin Loughran in the slot at the hashmarks. Loughran fired a one-timer past the glove of Ivan Prosvetov (22 saves) to put the Force ahead 1-0. It was Loughran’s seventh goal of the playoffs and the first of three assists on the night for Hebert. Loughran has scored a goal in six-straight playoffs games.
Youngstown tied the game just 1:04 into the second period. Chase Gresock stole a clearing pass at the top of the left circle in the Fargo end and snapped a wrist shot past Strauss Mann (38 saves) for his eighth of the playoffs, knotting the game at 1-1. The Phantoms grabbed the lead at 13:39 with a power play goal. Eric Esposito fired a shot from the left dot that hit Mann in the mask and appeared to stun him. Unable to control the rebound, the puck trickled behind Mann and Nick Cardelli poked it into the net, giving Youngstown a 2-1 advantage.
The Phantoms’ lead was short lived. Hebert won the ensuing faceoff back to Evan Bell. Bell carried the puck to the near wall and tried to dump the puck down the wall. Prosvetov started to exit the crease, anticipating the puck coming behind the cage, but Bell’s dump in hit a stanchion and deflected into the net, tying the game just six seconds after Youngstown took the lead.
The game remained tied until the 6:53 mark of the third. Hebert camped out behind the net and found Bison crashing the cage. Bison one-touched the puck quickly past Prosvetov to the far side, tucking his shot just inside the post to give Fargo the 3-2 lead. Youngstown pulled Prosvetov for the extra attacker with just under 2:00 left in the game but wasn’t able to find the equalizer.
With the loss, the Phantoms face elimination for the first time this postseason. They will fight to keep their championship hopes alive in Game Four tomorrow night at the Covelli Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05pm Eastern. The game will be broadcast on HockeyTV and YPHR.
By the Numbers
Shots – 40
Saves – 22
Power Play – 1/4
Penalty Kill – 2/2
Goals – Cardelli, Gresock
Assists – Callahan, Esposito
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