Steel’s Stezka blanks Phantoms
In a dramatic elimination game for both teams, the Youngstown Phantoms peppered Chicago Steel goaltender Ales Stezka with 40 shots.
Stezka stopped all of them as the Steel defeated the Phantoms, 2-0, on Tuesday to win their best-of-five USHL Eastern Conference semifinal series, 3-2.
The Phantoms, the fourth place team in the conference, gave the top-seeded Steel all they could handle, outshooting the home team 40-27.
With 8:10 remaining in the second period, Chicago’s Jack Badini scored on assists by Marc Johnstone and Ben Mirageas.
Derek Daschke scored the Steel’s other goal into an empty net with 2:51 remaining in regulation. Eduards Tralmaks assisted.
Phantoms goaltender Ivan Kulbakov made 26 saves.
In the first period, the Phantoms were granted the only two power plays of the game.
Eight minutes in, the Steel’s Jordan Seyfert was whistled for tripping. Forty seconds after that power play expired, Seyfert’s teammate Blake McLaughlin was called for hooking. Stezka handled the challenge.
The game was quite different from the first two games of the series in the Fox Valley Arena. The Steel won those contests, 4-1 and 6-0.
The series took a severe twist last weekend at the Covelli Centre. The Phantoms won Friday’s Game 3, 4-1, then hung on one night later for a 3-2 victory that forced Game 5.
The Phantoms were seeking their first Game 5 victory in franchise history. In 2013, they lost to Dubuque in Game 5 of the conference finals.