YOUNGSTOWN, OH – Despite overcoming 2-0 and 3-2 deficits, the Youngstown Phantoms (22-17-1-3, 48 points) couldn’t get over that final hump and ultimately fell 4-3 to the U17 squad of the United States National Team Development Program Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.
“From my perspective I felt like we clawed for everything we got,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “I felt in the third period we really earned the opportunity to get two points and made a couple really bad mental miscues and they cost us the game.”
With 6:50 left in the third period of a 2-2 hockey game, Thomas Bordeleau was going to be called for roughing Phantoms’ defenseman Aiden Gallacher, but Matthew Barnaby retaliated against Bordeleau and was assessed a five-minute major for cross checking and a game misconduct, cancelling out what would have been a Youngstown power play. Instead, Barnaby’s penalty led to a 4-on-4 situation followed by a 3:00 power play for Team USA that ultimately decided the game.
“At this time of the year, to talk about (undisciplined penalties), that shouldn’t be happening, specifically in a game that’s a very close game,” said Patterson. “Tonight, I think guys felt there was a liberty taken, but that’s unacceptable for that to happen.”
Team USA broke the 2-2 tie during the ensuing 4-on-4 play and grabbed a 3-2 lead. Chase Yoder walked off the right wall and cut to the net mouth, stuffing a shot through Chad Veltri (23 saves) to put USA back in front at 14:18.
Youngstown didn’t give up, and tied the game with a shorthanded goal during the powerplay for USA that followed the 4-on-4. A USA defender was trying to spin with the puck just inside his own blue line, but tripped and left the puck sitting just inside the USA zone. Connor MacEachern pounced on the loose puck, strided in towards Drew Commesso (24 saves) and snapped a wrist shot past him for a shorthanded goal, tying the game at 16:35 with his 19th goal of the season. “Connor is energy,” said Patterson. “Whether he scores or doesn’t score, Connor brings energy and positivity. Those are things that to me are invaluable.”
After the high of MacEachern tying the game with the shorthanded goal, the Covelli Centre deflated just as quickly as USA grabbed the lead for good just 36 seconds later. Brock Faber potted his first USHL goal at 17:11, flicking a wrist shot through traffic from center point and beating Veltri, giving the U17’s a 4-3 lead they would not relinquish.
USA scored the lone goal of the first period, grabbing the 1-0 on Bordeleau’s ninth of the season just 5:59 into the game. The Nationals doubled their lead at the 11:22 mark of the second when Matthew Beniers stuffed home a short-side shot at the left post for his fifth of the campaign.
Just when it seemed Youngstown was heading to the second intermission down 2-0, Jayson Dobay found the back of the net with 14.2 seconds remaining in the period for his first USHL goal, cutting the NTDP’s lead in half to 2-1. “(Jayson’s) been great,” said Patterson. “We talked a few weeks ago when we lost (Gianfranco) Cassaro and (Steve) Holtz to injuries, guys were going to have to step up and (Jayson) is a guy that’s played more minutes in different situations and he’s really excelled.” Dalton Messina tied the game for Youngstown 1:09 into the third period, tapping home a pretty backdoor feed from Craig Needham.
The loss snapped Youngstown’s three-game winning streak and brought them into a tie for third place with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at 48 points. Both teams are just one point ahead of fifth-place Dubuque and trail second place Chicago by seven.
Youngstown will head west for a quick three-games-in-three-days road trip with the first two stops coming in Des Moines against the Buccaneers before stopping in Bloomington on the way back to Youngstown to battle the Flying Aces. Both puck drops in Des Moines are scheduled for 8:05pm Eastern while Sunday’s faceoff in Illinois is slated for 5:07pm Eastern. All games will be broadcast on HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 27
Saves – 23
Power Play – 0/4
Penalty Kill – 6/7
Goals – Dobay, MacEachern, Messina
Assists – Larkin, Malone, Needham