Phantoms fall to Tri-City Storm 2-1, as team begins season looking to defend title

Staff photo / Brian Yauger. Youngstown’s Grant Young (11) handles the puck, while being pressured by a Tri-City defender on Wednesday night at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township, Pa.

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Youngstown’s title defense season opened much like last year’s season-opening tilt at the USHL Fall Classic — in defeat, as the Phantoms fell 2-1 to the Tri-City Storm.

“I thought we started slow, really slow,” Phantoms coach Ryan Ward said. “I thought Tri-City did a great job of being over top of us. I thought their defensemen were tight on us. It was a fight for every inch there in the first period, and then I saw as the game went on, we got better.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys in the lineup. I think for us, we’ll start to get our footing here and those guys will start taking strides. Obviously this is a pretty intimidating atmosphere for all those young guys but I thought we did some good things as the game went on. I think we missed a couple opportunities that we had to cash in, but we stuck with it. We want to be resilient and don’t give up till the end. And I thought we did some things that were really positive. We’ll build on it. We’ll clean some stuff up tomorrow and we’ll get back at it.”

The Storm made the opening punch, with forward Nolan Roed putting Tri-City on the board at the tail end of the first period.

Things didn’t improve much for the defending Clark Cup Champions in period two as they struggled to get the offense rolling. Tri-City added to their lead, with Dallas Vieau potting the second goal of the night.

Heading into the final period, the Phantoms were outshot 20-9.

Youngstown pitched a final effort in the third period, upping the aggressiveness in the offensive zone throughout the frame. The Phantoms had 15 shots in the final period, bringing the shots on goal total to 31-24 in favor of the Storm.

That aggressiveness paid off in the final minute as USHL rookie Sascha Boumedienne scored his first career goal, and the only goal the Phantoms would score on Wednesday.

He and Zach Morin both made their USHL debuts in the contest. Both are showing some serious promise, but are still going through growing pains, as is to be expected for 16-year-olds.

“I thought it’s what you expect from younger players,” Ward said. “They’re getting up to speed. That was probably the best team in the West, so it was good to see those guys get into the game. As they grow, Zach is going to be a lot better without the puck, but I think Sasha scored that goal which was a laser beam, so that’s good for his confidence. As they play games and gain experience, all that stuff will start to come together.”

Charlie Cerrato had a late penalty shot opportunity as well, but was unable to convert.

Owen Bartoszkiewicz had 29 saves on 31 shots for the Phantoms while facing heavy pressure all night.

A big plus for Youngstown was its penalty kill. The Phantoms were a man down seven times on the night, including two 5-on-3s, but kept Tri-City from scoring each time with a man advantage.

“The first game, a couple 5-on-3s, what’s new? I thought the penalty kill we’ve worked on in the last couple of weeks had to learn some tough lessons against Team USA and Muskegon,” Ward said. “But I thought they did a good job. We were structured, we were playing this unit and they gave us a chance there at the end, so I’m proud of our penalty kill and we’ll continue to build.”

The Phantoms (0-1-0-0, 0 points) close out the Fall Classic portion of their schedule tonight when they face Cedar Rapids. Puck drop is set for 5:30 p.m.



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