ANN ARBOR, Mich.
When Kyle Connor scored less than two minutes into the second period it looked as if the Youngstown Phantoms had settled down Tuesday night at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.
The Phantoms had yielded two first-period goals to Team USA, the second on a power play with just 27 seconds left in the period.
But after Connor’s goal, assisted by John Padulo, the wheels came off for Youngstown. Last-place Team USA tallied three goals in the second period and scored again just 24 seconds into the third to open a 6-1 advantage on the way to an 8-2 rout of the Phantoms.
Cam Brown scored Youngstown’s other goal, assisted by Austin Cangelosi on a power play 12:30 into the final period.
Backup goaltender Jake Moore faced 40 shots, saving 32. The Phantoms were credited with 21 shots. Thatcher Demko made 19 stops in goal for Team USA.
Youngstown (31-22-0) retains its stranglehold on the fourth and final USHL Eastern Conference playoff position, 14 points ahead of fifth-place Chicago.
But the Phantoms missed an opportunity to gain on third-place Muskegon which has a four-point edge over Youngstown.
Team USA, which has split six games with the Phantoms this season, is 18-29-5.
Seven different players scored for USA. Tyler Kelleher opened the scoring 2:32 into the game on an assist by Ryan McInnis.
Jack Eichel then converted a power play with assists by Will Butcher and J.T. Compher.
After Connor’s goal got the Phantoms back into the contest, John Hayden scored at 6:03 from Tommy Vannelli and Michael McCarron scored from Evan Allen at 8:26.
Tyler Motte closed out the second period scoring with a goal at 13:59 assisted by Clint Lewis and Keaton Thompson. Then he opened the third-period scoring just 24 seconds after the opening faceoff on assists by Eichel and Hudson Fasching.
Brown’s goal made the score 6-2 and then Team USA got another goal by Eichel at 16:58 assisted by Motte and Fasching, and a final tally by Evan Allen at 17:41 on assists from Kelleher and McCarron.
The Phantoms return to the Covelli Centre for games against the Indiana Ice on Thursday and Friday evenings.
Then it’s back to the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon (3:30) for a seventh contest against Team USA.
Youngstown has just six home games remaining including those this week.
The Phantoms play host to Cedar Rapids on March 29-30, play four in a row on the road before closing out the regular seaon April 12-13 at Covelli against the Chicago Steel.