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Phantoms fall to Chicago, 8-4

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Phantoms forward Kenta Isogai chases down the puck during the team’s 8-4 loss to the Chicago Steel Friday night.

YOUNGSTOWN — Just looking at the final score of Friday’s 8-4 loss for the Youngstown Phantoms might be a little deceiving.

There were points throughout, mainly in the second period, that it looked like the Phantoms could not only pull out of the hole, but take the lead as well.

However, the defending champion Chicago Steel had other plans as they scored flurries of goals at just the right time to fend off the Phantoms, despite being outshot 41-21.

“There was actually a lot that I really liked about that game, not the scoreboard at the end obviously, but I thought we had a lot of jam throughout,” Phantoms coach Brad Patterson said. “We had plenty of chances. They were obviously opportunistic and we weren’t to the same degree, I guess.”

Chicago got out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and it appeared like the Steel were going to have their way with another team like they’ve done so often this season. However, the Phantoms had other ideas, as Wisconsin commit William Whitelaw cut the deficit to 3-1 entering the first intermission.

Whitelaw, the first overall selection in the 2021 Futures Draft, has only been with the team for a few days, but hasn’t missed a beat. As an affiliate player, his long term status with the team is shaky, but Patterson wants to get him on the ice as much as possible while he’s here.

“It was tremendous,” the sixth-year coach said of Whitelaw’s performance. “As far as having an impact on the game, this goes beyond just scoring a goal. That’s a huge credit to him scoring in his first game, but just all around. He hounded pucks, he was physical, he made good plays, solid defensively, like all those sorts of things and to say that he does it after two or three practices, it’s a credit to him.

“It’s obviously what we thought of him prior to the draft with where we selected him, but super excited to see him back here in the future.”

Whitelaw’s goal helped spark a team that last season may have folded after giving up three first period goals.

Like Patterson mentioned earlier in the week, the team’s bond this season is much closer, and that’s having on-ice effects as well.

“It’s a mentality,” Patterson said. “I think the big difference from last year is, it might not be skill sets or anything like that, but there’s a team bond and you see it tonight. You go down a couple and at one point I felt like we were going to go up.

“That’s been consistent all year. Whether we’re up or down and everyone chips in in different fashion and that starts with what you do away from the rink. We were hampered in doing that last year to get that team bonding was tough. Whereas this year we started here for two days at the start of the training camp then we jumped on a bus and went away for four or five days and that immediately builds your team camaraderie. Guys stepping up and feeling comfortable and that’s what guys at this age need.”

Forward Adam Ingram, who picked up a goal on Jaden Grant’s second period goal, extended his point streak to 12 games.

The Phantoms won’t be back at the Covelli Centre until 2022, where they’ll host Cedar Rapids on Jan. 7 and 8.

It’s a busy road ahead including a “home-and-home” matchup against Green Bay that’s being played in Rochester, NY on Dec. 3 and 4.

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