Opening night and the Phantoms took on the NTDP U-18 squad in Ann Arbor. Due to the horrid wifi at Motel 6 I'll keep it brief; it was ugly. It was very ugly. I don't know any way to sugarcoat this... we got beat by a touchdown. Jake Moore gave up 9 goals on 38 shots and that's pretty much the bottom line. The offense never had a chance to get going and the defense never had a chance to get settled. USA scored on their first shot just 1:09 into the game and it snowballed from there.
After USA rattled off the first three goals in the first period, Youngstown looked like they were getting back on track. Recent arrival Alex Smith scored a goal at 14:10, less than a minute after the Phantoms killed off a dumb checking from behind penalty he took. That rounded out The First period with the Phantoms down by a deuce. The Phantoms came out of the gate flying in the second. You could feel it as they hit the ice. Less than half a minute in he drew a penalty and JJ Pichinich scored on the ensuing powerplay to draw within a goal. That was as close as it got as USA knocked in four more before the period ended. Ryan Schwalbe scored a goal after a lengthy review, an odd occurrence to those who remember the Dubuque playoff series, to start the third. USA scored two more just to make sure
Of course, Moore can't be blamed for everything. There were plenty of stupid penalties and Team USA played a solid game. The Phantoms have a lot of newcomers and the this U-18 squad is mostly returning U-17 kids. Moore played the full preseason schedule with starting goalie Sean Romeo sidelined with an undisclosed injury and may be tired but we needed him to play a lot better, especially the first half of the game. And with a quick turnaround game at 3:30pm the next day, it will be interesting to see how Moore handles the U-17 squad. Non-affiliate goalie Scott Trellis was on the bench for the first game so unless something changes they'll probably start Moore again.