Capitols blast sluggish Phantoms
Early power-play goals create deficit
By Tom Williams
In losing their third straight game, the Youngstown Phantoms were no menace against the last-place team in the USHL Eastern Conference.
The Madison Capitols (9-14-0-1, 19 points), the Ewoks of the conference, played like Wookies on “Star Wars” Night at the Covelli Centre, defeating the first-place Phantoms 4-1.
Standing tall as Chewbacca was Capitols goaltender Dryden McKay, who stopped all but one of the Phantoms’ 30 shots.
“He played very well back there, rock-solid,” said Phantoms left winger Joey Abate who scored the team’s goal in the first period. “I think we’re just tying to knock the rust off.”
Abate was referring to the 11-day break around Christmas.
“Tomorrow is a must-win [game],” Abate said.
Today, the Phantoms (12-8-3-1, 28 points) will travel to Plymouth, Mich., to play Team USA’s 17-year-old squad.
In Thursday’s 7-5 loss to the Capitols, Peeters relieved Ivan Prosvetov late in the second period and allowed the final three goals. Friday, he faced 24 shots in all and allowed two power-play goals in the first 20 minutes.
Phantoms head coach Brad Patterson said Prosvetov will start tonight’s game.
“They’ve both shown they can be legitimate number ones,” said Patterson, adding that his plan for three games in three nights was to get both plenty of work.
Coming off two straight losses, Abate’s second goal in four games gave the Phantoms new hope for a better outcome. Michael Regush assisted on the goal that gave the Phantoms a 1-0 lead early in the first period.
“I chipped it into the corner,” said Abate, who followed the puck and sent it out toward the goal crease. “I threw it in front of the net, trying to get some traffic in front.”
Instead, the puck bounced of McKay’s skate and into the net.
The advantage did not last long. After Matthew Barry was whistled for slashing, the Capitols pounced. Michael Mancinelli’s soft pass to an unguarded Alex Broetzman was converted into an easy goal.
“It was a broken play in the slot,” Patterson said. “Our defenseman [stepped] up and tried to finish a check, and it slipped past him.”
Eight minutes later while Chase Gresock watched from the penalty box, the Capitols took the lead on Jake Kucharek’s goal set up by Sweden native Ludwig Stenlund.
“It was a deflection from up high ... tough to react to,” Patterson said. “It wasn’t a point shot that went in.”
Patterson said the second period was his team’s best.
“We had a lot of jump,” Patterson said. “A couple of turnovers, us not putting the puck into the net and not keeping it out [hurt].”
The deficit increased to 3-1 midway through the second period when Peeters was late covering the side of the net as Latvia’s Verners Egle beat him with a wraparound shot.
The Capitols put the game out of reach five minutes into the third period when Brendan Walkom picked off a sloppy pass in the Phantoms’ zone and snapped the puck into the net.
“You can’t blame the two losses [only] on the break,” Phantoms captain Jake Gingell, “We’ve got to dig down deep and get this next one.”