For the second time this season, the Phantoms pulled off a dramatic effort to tie the game in the final moments, setting the stage for an overtime win. It was also the first game with the Phantoms for newly acquired goaltender Chad Veltri.
The Phantoms took the lead early. Jack Malone carried the puck up the left side before turning toward the faceoff circle and finding defenseman Nikolai Jenson, who joined the rush up ice. Malone put the puck on the blade of Jenson, who was able to direct the puck in behind Musketeers goaltender Jake Sibell 2:40 into the contest.
The Musketeers answered back at 13:19, when Albin Nilsson snapped a shot from the high slot between a pair of Phantoms defenders that somehow found a crack through Veltri, definitely one he'd like a do-over on. Shots were 10-9 in favor of the Phantoms after the first.
The Musketeers jumped out to a two goal advantage in the second. First, with Sibell pulled for an extra skater due to a delayed penalty to Joseph Abate (elbowing), Nisson drove up the right side boards and found a wide open Parker Ford in the left faceoff circle for a one-timer that Veltri had no chance on at 9:50.
Defenseman Brady Smith, who did not play Friday due to a suspension, would get the second at 12:04 after sneaking up on the play to the right faceoff circle, where Josh Brolin found him with a pass. Smith fired a shot high, bar-down, as Veltri started to go down to take away the lower portion of the net. I sit pretty close to behind the net and I did not see much room to shoot for.
The Phantoms would get one back before the end of the second. Ben Schoen hit Connor MacEachern in the high slot for a snap shot stick-side on Sibell at 14:55. Shots in the second frame were 11-7 in favor of Sioux City, the only period this weekend they outshot the Phantoms.
Queue the drama, the Phantoms would try to get the equalizing goal all third period, a large crowd cheering them on.
With Veltri pulled for the extra attacker, the Phantoms tried several times with sharp angle shots and stuffing the puck in behind Sibell from the crease. Murray, who was just inside the right faceoff circle along the boards, found MacEachern with a pass several feet above the left faceoff circle. MacEachern settled the puck and snapped a shot that beat Sibell high glove side with just 15.2 seconds on the clock. Shots were 9-4 for the Phantoms in the third.
In overtime, Jack Malone sprung Murray on the attack with a pass from behind his own goal line to the left side boards in the Neutral Zone. Murray had a step on Musketeers defenseman Luke Johnson and drove the puck in on Sibell. Sibell made the save on Murray, but Phantoms defenseman Steve Holtz followed the play up ice and jammed the rebound home for the win just 0:40 into the overtime period. Shots were officially 1-0 in the OT frame, though I counted 2, Murray's and Holtz's. For the game, the shots were 27-24 Youngstown.
The attendance figures haven't been published yet. I guess when the Phantoms get a decent crowd the league can't handle it. I was told 1,800 were expected and I'd estimate between that and 2,000 or maybe a few more. Anyway, it was a good crowd and they responded well, cheering the Phantoms on late for the tying goal. The team rewarded them with an exciting finish and that's how you build a following. You can't ask for anything better, except maybe some nice highlights. I have those too!
Nikolai Jenson's first USHL goal!
Connor MacEachern ties it with 15.2 seconds left in regulation!
Edit: Fixed several misspellings and style mistakes