The Phantoms looked to kick off the 17-18 season with a win, something we haven't done the past 4 years. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait another season for that. The Phantoms seemed to lack some of the energy we saw in preseason and displayed some of the goaltending issues that were present in Cranberry.
The Phantoms got off on the right foot.Working the puck behind the Aces net, Matthew Barry made a pass to the point to defenseman Gianfranco Cassaro who blasted it past the Aces netminder Zach Stejskal at 9:21. However, the Aces would get it back 1:30 later, with goalie Ivan Prosvetov screened, Jakub Lacka tipped a point shot in from Sebasitan Driven to tie it. Later in the period, with time expiring, Tyler Madden threw a backhander towards the net that may have hit the far post or crossbar and was deflected down and behind a flailing Prosvetov and behind him with 1.0 seconds left in the frame. The puck may have been hit with a high stick but was not called as such. The initial shot seemed to catch the Phantoms goalie off guard. Shots were 9-8 Aces.
The Aces would rule the second frame. A Tyler Madden shot would cleanly beat Prosvetov stick side at 6:40. The Phantoms though they had one back a few minutes later when an Eriks Zohovs shot was gloved by Stejskal , who was then shoved into the nety by a sliding Aces defender. I could not tell you if the refs had considered the play blown dead prior or that the puck did not cross the line, what I can tell on replay it's probably the latter, but the goal was not signaled and not counted after a short discussion. Moments later, the Aces were up ice and Max Andreev tried to tuck one in while going behind Prosveltov's net. He was unsuccessful but Drew Elser managed to poke it in with Prosvletov not able to hold the post at 9:35. Aces would out shoot us 11-5.
The Phantoms would get one back in the third. A good breakout of their own zone lead to a 3 on 2. A defender would trip Curtis Hall creating a delayed penalty situation. The penalty was not needed because Hall stuck with the puck and played it over to Max Ellis who slid it over to a wide open Chase Gresock who just steered it around the Aces netminder 3:23 into the final frame. That was all and the Phantoms fell 4-2. Shots in the third were, oh wait I don't have that stat since I didn't grab it and the USHL webiste is obviously wrong. Oh well...
Well, there is always next season. I mean to win the season opener, let's not panic yet. I can't pin all the blame on Ivan Prosvletov, though at least the last were routine and stoppable. The Phantoms lacked a lot of the drive we saw in Cranberry. Some of that may be to scratches. Jack Malone was listed as injured and Dalton Hunter was a healthy scratch. Scratching Hunter is what I would call a questionable decision at best. For that matter, I was wowed by Wouter Peeters goaltending from what little I saw, but he's figured to be the number one netminder, I'm not sure why he wasn't the starter. I'm betting we see both tonight.
So with one in the books we already have a few questions. We'll need to see a solid performance by everyone tonight to put some of those to rest. Let's hope that's what we see. Until then, here are a couple highlights.
Cassaro scores from the point.
Hall to Ellis to Gresock to payoff.