Steel takes advantage of tired Phantoms’ defense

Phantoms’ defense slips in USHL loss



Giving a team too many opportunities is often a recipe for trouble. The Youngstown Phantoms learned that hard lesson in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Steel at Covelli Centre on Saturday night.

The Steel, locked in a battle for the sixth seed in the USHL’s Eastern Conference, netted three third-period goals — one of them on an empty net — to maintain their hold on the final spot in the playoffs.

“They capitalized on their chances,” Phantoms coach Brad Patterson said. “They’re the second-highest scoring team in the league. They put up a lot of shots, but at the same time, they give a lot of chances up. We had some very good looks.”

The Phantoms fell behind, 2-0, early in the second period, but battled back to tie it at 2, heading into the third. Chicago (26-25-2-5) wasted little time breaking the tie as Todd Goehring tapped home a puck that slipped through traffic in front of the net off the stick of Samuel Bucek for the lead with 16:33 remaining.

“The third [goal], they had sustained pressure,” Patterson said. “We were not collapsed enough, we blew an assignment and the guy had easy access to the net in front. We were not good in front of the net.”

Matteo Pietroniro sent a slapshot from the boards just outside the circle into the net just less than two minutes later for a commanding 4-2 advantage with 14:43 left. Brian Hurley scored the final goal on a shot into the open net from behind his own blue line.

The Phantoms (32-19-5-2), who clinched the second seed in the Eastern Conference on Friday, scored their first goal just eight seconds into a power play as Max Ellis tapped the puck into the net with 17:57 to play in the second period.

Chase Gresock tied the score at 2 with 10:46 left in the period as he deflected the puck on a missed shot from Jake Gingell past Chicago goalkeeper Justin Robbins.

The Steel took advantage of a tired defense for their first goal, a one-timer off the stick of Blake McLaughlin a minute into a Chicago power play. Youngstown had killed one penalty already, but was bitten by the second power play seconds before the first had ended.

“It was deflating,” Patterson said. “I always have a list of things we do well and things we need to work on. The one thing from the weekend we need to be better at is we can’t take undisciplined penalties. Those are the ones you cannot kill. I felt we were undisciplined in that area. If they don’t catch up with you on the stat sheet, they will tire your guys out and the game can get away from you.”

Eric Otto made it 2-0 for the Steel 1:28 into the second period pushing a missed shot from Goehring into the net.

Prior to the contest, the teams joined in a circle at center ice for a moment of silence for the Humboldt Broncos, a Canadian Junior team. The team bus was headed to a playoff game in Saskatchewan when it collided with a tractor trailer. Fifteen people, including coach Darcy Haugan and team captain Logan Schatz, were killed and another 14 people were injured. Three more people remain in critical condition.

The Phantoms also honored slain Girard police officer Justin Leo during a pregame video on Saturday. Leo’s parents, David and Patricia, attended and dropped the ceremonial first puck.

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