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By Matthew Lipcsak 02/28/2021, 12:15am EST




YOUNGSTOWN, OH – In a hard-fought defensive battle where each team only managed a single goal in 65 minutes, the Youngstown Phantoms (6-18-3-2, 17 points) were on the short end of the stick in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Muskegon Lumberjacks Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.

“You always want those two points,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “A good chunk of tonight, I felt like our guys deserved that. We had structure in our game and everyone contributed in different facets. It’s tough to walk away with one (point).”

Youngstown opened the scoring 4:39 into the first period. Dylan Gratton and Cole Burtch broke into the Muskegon zone in a 2-on-1 rush. Burtch’s shot was answered by Muskegon netminder Nate Reid (22 saves), but he couldn’t control the rebound. The loose puck came right to Georgii Merkulov, and he tapped it into the empty net for his 10th goal of the season and a 1-0 Phantoms lead.

Muskegon carried play throughout the second period, outshooting Youngstown 18-5 in the frame, but couldn’t get anything past Colin Purcell (37 saves). Youngstown carried their 1-0 lead into the locker room for the second intermission. “(Colin) had a great showing, it’s sad we don’t get two points out of that,” said Patterson. “Colin would be the first one to tell you that he felt good about his game. I felt like a lot of (Muskegon’s shots) were from the perimeter whereas last night we gave up some Grade A’s. They obviously were putting a lot of pucks at the net, (Muskegon) had some good net front (presence) that Colin had to deal with. He was very good tonight.”

The Lumberjacks finally solved Purcell at 11:54 of the third period on Quinn Hutson’s seventh goal of the season, tying the game at 1-1. Muskegon got two power plays after tying the game, including one that carried over into overtime for 41 seconds, but Youngstown was able to kill all four penalties they were assessed this evening. Each side got two shots on net in the overtime, but both goaltenders were equal to the tasks, forcing a shootout to decide the winner.

Tanner Kelly opened the shootout with a goal for Muskegon in the top of the first, answered by Jack Malone in the bottom of the second for the Phantoms. After both sides failed to convert in the third round, Nick Portz snapped a wrister past Purcell from the top hashmark on the left side of the slot to give the Lumberjacks a 2-1 lead in the shootout. Will Hillman missed the net on his attempt in the bottom of the fourth round, giving Muskegon the victory.

Youngstown takes to the road for a three-in-three set in Green Bay March 5-7 before returning to the Covelli Centre for a quick two-game homestand against the Dubuque Fighting Saints March 12-13.



By the Numbers

Shots – 23

Saves – 37

Power Play – 0/1

Penalty Kill – 4/4

Goals – Merkulov

Assists – Burtch, Gratton


By Alexis Davis 02/27/2021, 12:30am EST




YOUNGSTOWN, OH – An initial two-goal deficit proved too much for the Youngstown Phantoms (6-18-3-1) to overcome as they fell to the Muskegon Lumberjacks 4-2 at the Covelli Centre Friday night. Youngstown cut Muskegon’s lead to one twice but were unable to tie the game. 


Muskegon struck first when Tanner Kelly got one past Mattias Sholl at 9:48 in the first period. Kelly extended the Jack’s lead 2-0 when he scored his second of the night with just 12.5 seconds left in the opening frame. 


Despite having to face some difficult plays, Sholl was able to block 30 of 33 shots on goal. “He’s an extremely athletic goaltender who gets across very quick…” Phantoms Assistant Coach Justin DeMartino “With his athleticism it really helps give us some chances (to win).”  


Youngstown’s powerplay accounted for both Phantoms goals and ended the night 2/4. The first power play goal came in the second period after Bradley Marek was sent to the box for tripping. Jack Malone snapped one past Nathan Reid at the 2-minute mark, cutting Muskegon’s lead 2-1. Muskegon answered back just 35 seconds later when Owen Mehlenbacher converted on a 2-on-1 break and extended the Jacks’ lead back to two at 3-1.  


Cole Burtch made it a one goal game at 3:58 of the third when he cashed in on a pass from Malone to the front of the net. The power play goal was Burtch’s 10th of the season. Malone ended the game with a goal and assist, giving him 95 total points in the USHL. With just under seven minutes left in the third, Burtch got the puck to the back of the net again in what appeared to be a game tying goal, but the officials deemed that it was no goal due to interference, keeping it a 3-2 game. 


Youngstown pulled Sholl with just under 1:30 left in the third period. Muskegon Captain Dylan Wendt got an empty-net goal at 18:44, solidifying the Jacks 4-2 victory. 


By the Numbers

Shots – 24

Saves – 30

Power Play – 2/4

Penalty Kill – 4/4

Goals – Burtch, Malone

Assists – Malone, May, Merkulov, Stannard


By Alexis Davis 02/21/2021, 12:30am EST




YOUNGSTOWN, OH -- Despite a hard-fought battle, the Youngstown Phantoms (6-16-3-2, 16 points) fell Saturday night against the Chicago Steel (22-8-2-0) at the Covelli Centre 5-4 in overtime. 


After a scoreless first period, Youngstown got the first goal of the night just 2:04 into the second period. After firing a shot into the glove of Nick Haas, Cole Burtch picked up his own rebound and quickly passed the puck to Yusaku Ando. Ando fanned on his initial attempt, but recovered as Nick Haas (25 saves) was still trying to get back in front of the net, giving the Phantoms a 1-0 lead.  


Adam Robbins tied the game just over two minutes later when he picked up the puck on the rebound and blasted it into the net. At 7:43, Chicago took the lead when Ian Moore fired a backhander past Mattias Sholl (17 saves) to make it a 2-1 game. 


The Phantoms answered later in the period when Riley Duran blasted the one-timer past Haas to tie the game at 2-2. Just 1:43 later a Chicago cross-checking penalty gave Youngstown the opportunity to take back the game, and Will Hillman gave Youngstown a 3-2 lead when he redirected a Mike Brown shot past Haas. 


Just 1:05 into the third period, Jack Babbage snapped one in with a wrist shot once again making it a tie game. Over 13 minutes later, Matt Coronato picked off a pass and got a short-handed goal, giving Chicago a 4-3 lead at 14:43.


Hillman gave us our fourth tie of the game when he picked up a rebound from Zmolek at the edge of the crease and buried it behind Haas at 15:36. The goal was Hillman’s second of the night and fifth of the season. Hillman has been a big part in the Phantoms defense this season. “It’s definitely nice to see him get rewarded…” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson “He puts his nose in there every night and does the hard work that doesn’t get publicized.” 


A cross-checking penalty for Winter Wallace at 18:44 forced the Phantoms to be on the penalty kill for the first 44 seconds of overtime. With all the open ice a 4-on-3 power play creates, Matt Coronato cashed in on a pass from Ryan Ufko, scoring his second of the night just 31 seconds into overtime and giving Chicago the 5-4 overtime victory. 

By the Numbers

Shots – 29

Saves – 17

Power Play – 2/4

Penalty Kill – 4/5

Goals – Ando, Duran, Hillman (2)

Assists – Ando, Burtch, Brown, Malone, Silich, Zmolek (2)


By Matthew Lipcsak 01/31/2021, 10:15pm EST




YOUNGSTOWN, OH – Despite scoring the first three goals of the game, the Youngstown Phantoms (6-14-2-1, 15 points) fell to Team USA 4-3 in overtime Sunday night at the Covelli Centre.

“You play the same team three times in a row, tempers are going to flare, gives you that playoff-like environment,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “I know special teams played a big part in that, I would have liked to have seen more five-on-five, but I know there’s two clubs in (the locker room) that are extremely tired. Tough to come away with only three points (this weekend), but I think we made steps.”

Youngstown opened the scoring 12:33 into the first period. Sergei Kuznetzov put home the rebound of Bayard Hall’s shot for his first USHL goal to give the Phantoms an early advantage. “The message through Georgii Merkulov (translating into Russian) was ‘hey, we’re going to ease you into things.’ This is his first time to North America, and I thought he really adjusted well. You can tell he’s played a high level (of hockey), and I thought he got more comfort as the weekend went.”

Jack Malone doubled the Youngstown lead at 14:58, converting on a penalty shot. Malone was hauled down on a breakaway and awarded the free attack on Tommy Aitken (19 saves). Malone came down the middle of the ice and used a backhand deke to open up Aitken’s five-hole, and Malone slipped the puck into the net for his third goal of the season and a 2-0 Youngstown lead. Malone has 93 points in his USHL career, moving him into a tie with Trevor Kuntar and Mike Ambrosia for sixth place on the Phantoms’ all-time scoring list.  

The Phantoms increased their lead at 8:10 of the second. Just after a penalty kill, Jack Silich picked up a puck in his own end, blazed down the left side of the ice, and snapped a wrister from just above the faceoff dot past Aitken for his fourth goal of the season and a 3-0 Youngstown lead.

Team USA answered back with a vengeance just over two minutes later. A 5-on-3 power play goal from Sean Behrens found its way to the twine at 10:32 to get the NTDP on the board. Just over two minutes later, a blatant non-call gave USA the opportunity for a shorthanded goal that they cashed in on. Ryan St. Louis kicked the legs out from Malone at the left point, allowing Luke Hughes to slide the loose puck ahead to Justin Janicke. Jacnicke carried ahead into the Youngstown zone in a 2-on-1, but chose to shoot and snapped a wrister past Mattias Sholl (38 saves) for a shorthanded goal, trimming the Phantoms’ lead to 3-2. Liam Gilmartin exited the penalty box and scored on the shift after the power play ended for Youngstown to tie the game for Team USA. With Gilmartin’s goal coming at 14:01, the NTDP scored three goals in 3:29.

Patterson used his time out after the tying goal for USA, and the Phantoms settled down for the rest of the period and a scoreless third, sending the game to overtime. Gilmartin cashed in on a redirect from the mouth of the crease at 2:42 of the extra frame on a pretty pass from Caden Brown to give USA the victory.

The Phantoms wrapped up their six-game homestand with a 2-2-2 record and will hit the road for the next five, beginning with a 3-in-3 this Thursday night in Dubuque.


By the Numbers

Shots – 22

Saves – 38

Power Play – 0/3

Penalty Kill – 5/6

Goals – Kuznetzov, Malone, Silich

Assists – Gratton, Hall, Hindman


By Matthew Lipcsak 01/31/2021, 1:15am EST




YOUNGSTOWN, OH – Two special teams goals from Jaden Grant and 30 saves from Mattias Sholl helped power the Youngstown Phantoms (6-14-1-1, 14 points) to a 5-2 victory over Team USA’s U18 squad Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.

“Jaden came up big tonight,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “He plays in all situations. He’s a very good communicator…he’s a complete leader. I’m so proud of him…Sholl was tremendous. (He) made big stops all night.”

Youngstown scored the first three goals of the game, two in the first period and the only goal of the second. Grant Hindman kicked things off with a wrister through traffic that found twine 8:55 into the first period. It was Hindman’s fourth goal of the season, all of which have come in the last eight games. The Phantoms lead doubled on Jaden Grant’s redirect power play goal with just eight seconds remaining in the opening frame. It was Grant’s third goal of the season, all coming in the last five games. Mike Brown scored the lone tally of the second period, snapping a wrist shot from the left wall past Gibson Homer (13 saves) for his second of the season, giving Youngstown a 3-0 lead at the second intermission.

USA got on the board with a 5-on-3 power play goal from Dylan Duke 6:44 into the third, but the Phantoms answered back 46 seconds later. With Hindman in the box for hooking, Will Hillman deflected a pass at center that bounced right to Grant, giving him a breakaway from the red line. From the hashmark, Grant snapped a wrister past Homer’s blocker for his second of the game, Youngstown’s fifth shorthanded goal of the season, and a 4-1 Phantoms lead. “I saw the guy was looking cross-ice, so I made the read to step up,” said Grant. “Just had to get on my wheels to break away.” Tonight was Grant’s second multi-point game of his USHL career and first two-goal game.

The NTDP responded with another power play goal, this one from Ty Gallagher at 16:14 to get back within two at 4-2. Brown’s stick had broken earlier in the shift, and USA was able to work the puck around their formation until Gallagher pumped a one-timer from the left circle behind Sholl. Youngstown had to kill eight penalties on the night, and while they were successful on six of those attempts, Patterson was displeased. “I thought some of those penalties were selfish, there’s no way to beat around the bush,” said Patterson. “It can’t happen. It can’t happen in a close game. It can’t happen in a game that gets away from you. It’s tough to give a negative message after getting two points, but I’d be a terrible coach or leader if I didn’t bring that up. I was frustrated.”

The U18’s pulled Homer to the bench at 17:01 in an effort to tighten the score, but Winter Wallace scored on the empty net at 17:39 to seal the victory for Youngstown. It was Wallace’s second multi-point game of the season and first career three-point game.

Jack Malone tacked on two assists, raising his career point total to 92. Malone now has 67 assists in his USHL career, jumping him two spots on the Phantoms’ all-time assists list into sole possession of fourth place. Riley Duran extended his scoring streak to four games with an assist on Wallace’s goal. Tonight was Ben Schoen’s 100th game in the USHL.  The Phantoms and U18’s wrap up their 3-in-3 weekend series tomorrow afternoon at the Covelli Centre at 4:05.


By the Numbers

Shots – 18

Saves – 30

Power Play – 1/5

Penalty Kill – 6/8

Goals – Brown, Grant (2), Hindman, Wallace

Assists – Duran, Hillman, Larrigan, Malone (2), May, Wallace (2), Zmolek