YOUNGSTOWN, OH— A wild finish at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, MI saw the Youngstown Phantoms (9-9-0-3) come away victorious 5-4 in overtime over the National Team Development Program’s U-18 squad.
The game began with a furious pace that would normally play in the U-18’s favor, however, Phantoms netminder Christian Stoever (33 saves) stood on his head to keep the game scoreless.
The Phantoms rallied off of Stoever’s great play in the first period and would be rewarded early in the second. Matt DeMelis entered the zone and made a slick move around a NTDP defender and lasered a shot that Trever Kuntar got his stick on to go up one at the 4:21 mark of the second period.
Connor MacEachern extended Youngstown’s lead ten minutes later, as he found a loose puck off a Gianfranco Cassaro shot and placed it perfectly past the outstretched hand of Team USA’s goalie Cameron Rowe.
Kuntar extended the lead to three at 16:06 when he tapped in a rebound on the powerplay.
Ryder Rolston stopped the bleeding with 22 seconds remaining in the middle frame to cut the deficit to two.
USA proceeded to score three more unanswered goals to start the final regulation period and it looked as if the U-18’s had the game wrapped up.
A missed opportunity on an empty net chance gave Youngstown a last breath and Brett Murray found Kuntar from below the goal line and Kuntar buried the shot to complete the hat-trick and tie the game with 1:01 remaining in regulation.
Youngstown dominated the overtime period. Joey Abate had a great chance to end the game as he crashed the net but missed just wide. The Phantoms gathered the rebound and Abate cycled back around through the slot and would not be denied a second time as he ended the game on a great backhand shot to give the Phantoms the win and additional point. Youngstown has now played in six overtime games this season winning two in the overtime period, and once in a shootout.
Youngstown returns to action December 14 at the friendly confines of the Covelli Centre for ugly sweater night as they begin a three-in-three set with the Chicago Steel. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 PM and broadcasts are available on HockeyTV and Western Reserve Radio.
By the Numbers
Shots – 25
Saves – 33
Power Play – 1/7
Penalty Kill – 2/2
Goals – Kuntar (3, PP), MacEachern, Abate
Assists – DeMelis, Cassaro (2), Murray, MacEachern
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Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 17th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2018-19. 45 players were chosen in the 2018 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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