Phantoms take opener from weary Saints
By Greg Gulas
Matthew Barry had a goal and assist, Chase Gresock and Joe Abate each scored and Ivan Prosvetov stopped 33 shots as the Youngstown Phantoms defeated the Dubuque Fighting Saints 3-1 on Friday night at Covelli Centre.
Youngstown leads the USHL’s Eastern Conference semifinals, 1-0.
It was a matter of the rested Phantoms versus the road-weary Fighting Saints. Youngstown drew a first-round bye and had been idle since last Sunday while Dubuque, coming off an first-round sweep of the Green Bay Gamblers, was playing its fifth game in eight.
“It’s huge to go up 1-0 and jumping on them early was the key tonight,” Barry said. “We made their defense work hard after taking the lead and never let up.”
It took just 67 seconds for the Phantoms to notch the first goal when Gresock’s shot flew past the outstretched glove of Dubuque goalie Cole Weaver for a 1-0 lead.
It was Gresock’s team-leading 27th goal.
“I previously had a breakaway, but this time [Michael] Regush got the puck to Matt [Barry], he slid it over to me and I was able to sneak it into the net,” Gresock said. “They played two tough first-round games, plus they had to travel. It was a lot of fun and exciting to score our first goal of the play-offs.”
For Weaver, who was in goal for both Fighting Saints’ first-round wins against Green Bay, it was just the third goal that he had allowed in the postseason.
Youngstown made it 2-0 on Joey Abate’s shot at the 17:05 mark.
The goal came just moments after Fighting Saints forward Quinn Preston’s wrist shot hit the post.
“We were ready and focused and to win this first game was huge. It takes the weight off our shoulders,” Abate said. “Nick Cardelli passed the puck across the crease, it was intercepted, I lifted my stick then was able to wrap it around and into the net. This wasn’t our best game, but we won and that’s all that counts.”
Youngstown stretched its advantage to 3-0 at 1:36 of the second period when Barry, who assisted on Gresock’s goal in the opening period, scored.
Phantoms head coach Brad Patterson had a feeling his team was set and ready to go.
“We defended really well tonight, but I knew by Wednesday and Thursday that we would be ready to play,” Patterson said. “This is playoff hockey and no matter who you play, you aren’t going to score many elite goals.”
When Preston’s shot sailed past the outstretched arm of Phantoms goalie Ivan Prosvetov at 18:39 of the second period, Dubuque managed to cut the Youngstown lead to 3-1.
The Phantoms have been money all season when leading after two periods and Friday night was no different.
They were 24-0-1 in 25 previous games when leading heading to the final period and Prosvetov made sure the streak stayed intact by stopping all 16 shots in the final session.
The Fighting Saints pulled Weaver with 2:05 remaining, but the Phantoms held them in check.
Each team finished with 34 shots on goal.
Game 2 of the series is at 7:05 tonight at Covelli Centre.