Power-play goals ignite Force in Game 1 win
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In their first USHL Clark Cup Final game, the Youngstown Phantoms paid a steep price for not being able to stay out of the penalty box.
The Fargo Force scored three power-play goals to defeat the Phantoms, 4-1, on Friday night in Scheels Arena in the first game of their best-of-five championship series.
“When it was 5-on-5, I thought we were pretty good,” Phantoms head coach Brad Patterson said. “There were a lot of penalties so the flow of the game wasn’t great.”
The Force went 3-for-8 on the power play while the Phantoms scored once with seven opportunities.
“We need to get better [on special teams play],” Patterson said.
The Phantoms and Force will play here again tonight. The series will shift to Covelli Centre next weekend with Game 3 set for Friday at 7:05 p.m. If necessary, Game 4 will be played on May 19 at Covelli Centre.
If Game 5 is necessary, it will be played at Scheels Arena on May 23.
The Phantoms had the first two power-play opportunities early in the first period. But when Nicholas Cardelli was whistled for cross-checking to negate the second man-advantage, it was the first of five consecutive penalties called on the Phantoms.
The Force took a 1-0 lead with Cardelli in the penalty box as Evan Bell scored on assists by Robbie Stucker and A.J. Drobot.
The Phantoms killed off the Force’s other three power plays in the first period.
But with 6:43 remaining in the second period, the Force connected again with the man-advantage. Griffin Loughran made it 2-0 and Stucker and Bell earned assists.
Fewer than three minutes later, the Phantoms roared to life as defenseman Michael Joyaux scored with Bell watching from the penalty box. Matthew Barry, the Phantoms’ leading scorer in the regular season, and Tommy Parrotino assisted.
“We had four or five grade-A opportunities,” Patterson said, adding that the game came close to being tied several times.
A fortunate bounce led to the Force’s third goal. With 16:17 remaining, the puck deflected at about a 90-degree angle off a defender or goaltender Ivan Prosvetov to Ben Meyers, perched for a back-door tally.
Garrett Van Wyhe completed the scoring with an empty-net goal.
Force goaltender Strauss Mann stopped 24 shots. Prosvetov made 33 saves.