YOUNGSTOWN, OH – The Youngstown Phantoms 2018 Clark Cup Playoff run came to an end Saturday night at the Covelli Centre after a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Fargo Force in Game Four of the Clark Cup Final. Fargo won the best-of-five series three-games-to-one.
“One play makes the game,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “It’s not that the guys didn’t execute or didn’t do what we asked, they all did, and that’s the hard part.”
Neither team lit the lamp in an odd first period that saw three delays in the action due to fog that developed over the playing surface. A severe thunderstorm in Youngstown this afternoon caused a power outage to the Covelli Centre and an excess of humidity in the building. By the time the second period began, the fog had cleared from the building and the game was not delayed any further.
Fargo opened the scoring 5:15 into the second with a power play goal. Evan Bell blasted a one-timer from the top of the right circle past Ivan Prosvetov (31 saves) to give the Force a 1-0 lead. Fargo doubled their lead at 14:45 when Garrett Van Wyhe redirected a shot behind Prosvetov from three feet out, putting the Force ahead 2-0.
Youngstown got on the board in the waning moments of the second. Steve Holtz fired a slap shot from the top of right circle that clanged off the far post behind Strauss Mann (26 saves). The rebound went right to the tape of Matt Barry, and he fired it into the net at 19:21 for his fourth goal of the postseason, cutting the Fargo lead to 2-1.
The Phantoms tied the game early in the third period on a Curtis Hall wrist shot from the left circle at 3:43 and almost took the lead off the ensuing faceoff, but Mann made a key save on Nick Cardelli to keep the game tied. “I felt like once we got that first one a little tidal wave was going to come and it was just a matter of time before we got the second one,” said Patterson.
Fargo scored the Clark Cup-winning goal with 3:54 remaining in regulation. Former Phantom defenseman Ty Farmer came flying through the neutral zone with speed and split two defenders after taking a touch pass from Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup. Farmer fired a wrist shot from the hashmarks that beat Prosvetov over the glove to put Fargo ahead 3-2. Jon McDonald scored on the empty net with 0.7 seconds remaining in regulation to make up the final margin.
“It was a special group,” concluded Patterson. “I couldn’t have asked for anything other than what the guys gave me on a daily basis. They loved one another, they showed up at the rink every day and worked hard. We had tremendous support from our whole organization.”
By the Numbers
Shots – 28
Saves – 31
Power Play – 0/3
Penalty Kill – 1/3
Goals – Barry, Hall
Assists – Ellis, Esposito, Gresock, Holtz
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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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