The Youngstown Phantoms were staring at a 3-0 deficit with just over 10 minutes left Friday night in the opening game of the USHL Eastern Conference Finals against the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Goals by John Padulo and Sam Anas less than a minute apart cut the deficit to one goal with 8:44 left, but Dubuque was able to hold on for a 3-2 victory at the Mystique Community Ice Center.
Game 2 is scheduled tonight at Dubuque. Game 3 is Monday at the Covelli Centre with Game 4, if necessary, the following night. If the series goes the distance, Game 5 is scheduled May 4 at Dubuque.
Things were looking good for the Phantoms midway through the contest. After holding an 8-6 edge in shots on goal in the first period, Youngstown had recorded six of the nine shots in the first 10 minutes of the second period.
That 14-9 edge in shots included a string of five in a row the Phantoms unleashed at Dubuque goalie Arthur Brey from the 14:32 mark of period two to the 11:18 mark.
Shortly thereafter things changed drastically.
The Fighting Saints scored twice within a period of two minutes and four seconds, then added a power-play goal in the third period on the way to their 3-0 lead.
Jarrid Privitera tallied off assists by Joseph Manno and Keegan Ford with 9:52 left in period two, then Karson Kuhlman tallied at 7:48 on assists by Shane Sooth and Frank DiChiara.
Peter Quenneville scored from Sooth and Michael Downing at 11:47 of period three with just four seconds remaining on a two-minute tripping minor being served by Padulo.
Padulo started the Youngstown comeback scoring a power-play goal with 9:46 remaining in the game off a Sam Anas assist. Anas then tallied unassisted at the 8:44 mark. The goals were the third of the playoffs for both Padulo and Anas.
Youngstown managed three more shots on goal after Anas scored, but the Phantoms were hampered by two more penalties.
The Phantoms finished with a 25-24 edge in shots on goal including an 11-4 edge in period three. Dubuque had a 14-6 advantage in the second period.
Sean Romeo had 21 saves for Youngstown and Brey made 23.
Dubuque won four of the five regular-season meetings between the teams.