GREEN BAY, WIS.
The Youngstown Phantoms’ season-long struggles on the power play continued on Friday night against the best team in the USHL.
Sam Herr’s second-period goal snapped a 1-1 tie and sent the Green Bay Gamblers (43-8-3, 89 points) to a 4-1 victory over Youngstown.
The Phantoms (30-18-7, 67) failed to score on five man-advantage opportunities and lost their third straight game.
Also scoring for the Gamblers, who own the top seed in next month’s playoffs, were Sheldon Dries, Alex Broadhurst and Nicholas Schilkey.
Austin Cangelosi scored an unassisted shorthanded goal for the Phantoms, who remain six points behind second-place Indiana (33-14-7, 73) in the Eastern Conference standings. The Ice were idle.
The Phantoms dropped into fourth place as the Dubuque Fighting Saints (32-19-4, 68) took over third with a 5-3 victory over the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
The magic number for the Ice to eliminate the Phantoms from the chase for second place is five (points earned by Indiana or lost by Youngstown). Indiana has six games remaining; Youngstown has five, including tonight’s game in Green Bay.
The only good news for the Phantoms was Cedar Rapids’ 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago. That reduced the Phantoms’ magic number to two for clinching fourth place and home-ice advantage in the first round.
Six teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs. The top two seeds earn first-round byes while the others face off in best-of-three series.
Phantoms goaltender Matt O’Connor made 25 saves. Ryan McKay, the Gamblers’ netminder, stopped all but one of the 23 shots he faced.