The game itself was an even, mostly defensive match. The Phantoms had the early edge in shots. They would get a couple powerplay opportunities midway through the first frame but it would be the 'Riders capitalizing on the second one. Off the faceoff, Mike Regush would take the puck and lay a soft pass to Michael Joyaux, too soft a pass. 'Riders forwaed Marc McLaughlin would intercept the puck in between them, poking it off the boards to the neutral zone and raced around a flatfooted Joyaux on a breakaway. McLaughlin would pick up the puck and go off on a break away. The Phantoms netminder Wouter Peeters came out to the top of his crease but did not even flinch as McLaughlin put a laser shot from the left faceoff circle over his shoulder popping the water bottle at 10:02 on the 'Riders 5th shot of the game. Shots were 13-7 after the first period.
The 'Riders would outshoot the Phantoms by a slim margin in a scoreless 2nd frame, 7-6. This would include several shots by the 'Riders after Peeters misplayed a covering attempt. The Belgian netminder flounded outside his crease making several saves laying on his side, also getting a little luck from the post. It wasn't pretty but he kept the puck out of his net and the score 1-0 heading into the third. The Phantoms would dominate the final frame in regulation and finally got the score evened up when Joey Abate would beat out an icing call to keep play alive in the offensive zone. Zach Metsa and Eric Esposito would keep the puck from being cleared and Esposito would eventually dig it out of the 'Riders defenders and slip along the left wall and put a pass for Abate alone in the slot. Abate fired a quick shot to the glove of the 'Riders goaltender Blake Pietila. Pietela was unable to hold the puck as it fell to the crease and past the line at 11:28. Shots would end up 11-6 in favor of the Phantoms in the third and we would head to overtime.
Both sides would get a shot off in the three on three but no one would get the OT winner and we would need a shootout to decide things. the 'Riders Marek Valach would open the shootout and went forehand to backhand to open up Peeters before going back to the forehand to slip it through the five-hole. Max Ellis would even it up in the second round, slow skating and going forehand to back hand, sliding Pietila to one side nefore going forehand to tuck it inside the empty far side post. The next three rounds would end with no goals for either side. Eric Esposito would be the last shooter in round number six and he let go a half-snap shot, almost nonchalantly, from the slot back against the direction he was skating. Pietila may have been caught moving the wrong direction because he was unable to get any part of it and the Phantoms took home the extra point.
It was a good game with both teams having chances but it ended 2-1 in a shootout. Both sides showed good defense. I'm impressed with the RoughRiders, they lost 3 players to the WJAC, the Phantoms only missing Curtis Hall. Cedar Rapids has also been decimated by injuries to key players. Getting a point on an early morning road game must feel like a win to them. The Phantoms claimed the extra point but with less than 200 people to see it. If anyone is wondering, the previous low bar, as far as I can remember, was 445 on 1/22/14 when another school day game got canceled by -17° wind chill. That felt like a sellout compared to yesterday. But a win is a win.
We do it again tonight, hopefully a few more bodies in the seats. Until then, here is the highlight.
Joey Abate ties it with his first goal as a Phantom!