By John Kovach
YOUNGSTOWN — There was a “puckstorm” Saturday night at the Covelli Centre, as the fourth-place Youngstown Phantoms played host to the second-place Chicago Steel for the first time in a United States Hockey League East Division game.
Pucks were flying into the net as the two teams combined to score 13 goals, including an avalanche of eight in the second period within a span of 13:54, in an aggressive, all-out, offensive-minded struggle.
Chicago managed to hold a 5-4 lead going into the final period, where the puck blizzard continued with the Steel padding their lead to 6-4.
But the Phantoms rallied for two straight goals from Andrew Lamont at 11:56 and Nick Czinder at 8:46 to tie it at 6-6 in regulation, then won in sudden-death overtime, 7-6, on Tom Serratore’s third goal of the year with 3:44 left in the 5-minute extra session to climb within one point of Chicago.
Youngstown (8-5-1, 17 points) earned two points for a win, while Chicago (8-4-2, 18 points) got one point for an overtime loss.
The final goals by Serratore and Czinder were their second of the game, while Taylor Holstrom had the assists on both goals and finished with three. Brian Dowd and David Donnellan had two each.
The Phantoms won four of five games on the homestand, losing to the Green Bay Gamblers Friday, 4-3, in their fourth straight one-goal decision.
The Gamblers (8-4-2, 18 points) were in first place in the East, one point ahead of Chicago, entering Saturday’s play.
Youngstown plays next weekend at Sioux Falls Friday and Sioux City Saturday.
Serratore’s winning goal was about an 8-foot shot through an opening on the right side of the net and to the left of the goalie.
“It was a snap shot. I saw the defenseman go down [move to the left in front of the goal] and then I went to the backside [right] of the net and Holstrom threw me a pass and I scored,” said Serratore
“It wasn’t my first sudden-death goal but my most exciting.”
Coach Bob Mainhardt said the game’s 13 goals were not the most he has been a part of, but are the most the Phantoms have scored as a USHL member.
“Unfortunately, that was something that both coaches didn’t want because it meant that both teams were not executing on defense,” said Mainhart.
“Tom has been a very steady player but he hasn’t been putting up the scoring numbers, and I’m happy for him that he could get a game-winning goal.”
The Steel emerged from the high-scoring second period with a 5-4 lead with 3:49 left, as Mark Adams tallied his second goal on a power play goal with an assist from Greg Wolfe, ending the second period eruption.
Then in the third period, the Steel took a 6-4 lead at 14:20 when Alex Carpenter scored his second goal assisted by Jay Camper, before the Phantoms retaliated to score three straight goals to win.
Carpenter’s goal and Andrew Schmit’s assist at 5:19 of the first quarter gave Chicago a 1-0 lead.
The big-scoring second period started with Wolfe’s unassisted goal at 17:43 of second period that lifted Chicago ahead by 2-0.
The Phantoms finally scored 42 seconds later on Serratore’s power play goal at 17:01 on an assist from Donnellan.
But the Steel countered with a goal to go ahead 3-1 as Mark Antoine scored on an assist by Andrei Kuchin at 15:55.
However, Youngstown struck again on Ryan Jasinsky’ goal and Dowd’s assist at 13:30 left to cut Chicago’s lead to 3-2.
And the Phantoms scored again to tie it at 3-3 at 12:40 left on Donnellan’s shorthanded goal with an assist from Jefferson Dahl.