I guess this is the first "normal" weekend for the Phantoms, no Fall Classic just the regular grind of the hockey schedule. I put quotes around normal because the games against Muskegon can be anything but. With Dominic Basse getting his first start in Youngstown and after the loss last week, I was really hoping this game wouldn't get too crazy.
The Phantoms opened the scoring, Garrett Dahm laying a pass to Defenseman Linden Alger, who was pinching into the left faceoff circle. Alger one-timed a hard shot that beat the Jacks netminder Noah Giesbrecht at 5:09 of the first. The Phantoms would make it 2-0 at 9:36 when Trevor Kuntar muscled around defenseman Dylan Gratton and got a shot on goal. Giesbrecht made the initial save but Reilly Funk got his stick on the rebound and pushed it into a wide open net. Both goals were USHL firsts for the scoring player.
The Jacks got one back with :54 left in the period. A Luke Mobley centering pass took an odd bounce in the slot, possibly hitting John Beaton's stick, and rolling in on Purcell who was unable to adjust his position in time. Shots were 7-6 Jacks but the Phantoms had a 1 goal lead after the first 20:00.
Funk added his second goal of the evening at 3:13 of the second period on the powerplay. Just :08 into the man advantage Funk took advantage of a Giesbrecht rebound off a Matthew Cassidy shot to put the Phantoms up a pair. That would end Giesbrecht's night, 3 goals on 7 shots in 23:13. Jack Williams would come in for his first USHL regular season action. The rest of the second was uneventful and the Phantoms ending with a slight edge in shots for the frame, 11-10.
In the third, he Phantoms would push the lead to 3 goals. John Beaton got his first USHL goal when he hammered home a Arseni Smekhnov shot at 11:26.
The Jacks would try to make things interesting. Oliver MacDonald put a point shot in glove side off a faceoff at 15:18 to pull within a pair. That would be all and both clubs only registered 5 shots in the frame and were also even at 22 for the game.
The bad news is Ben Schoen left the game after a collision at center ice at 7:06 of the third period. The forward was skating up ice when the puck rolled off his stick and to a Jacks player, Ryan Sorkin, who was backchecking to make a hit. Sorkin took the puck on his stick but was still moving to make contact with Schoen who was trying to retrieve the puck. Schoen did no pull up or change his angle in any way and Sorkin raised his shoulder just before contact and Schoen took a hard hit to the head. Schoen's helmet went sailing off and the forward's head hit the ice after falling. Several Phantoms dogpiled on Sorkin, with only a roughing issued to both Sorkin and Garrett Dahm and an extra unsportsmanlike going to Dahm.
I have mixed feelings about the play. In his defense, Sorkin had the puck on his stick and Schoen was about to make contact with him. Schoen is a much smaller player and his head is unfortunately right about the hight of Sorkin's shoulder. However, Sorkin clearly braced to put his shoulder into a player and made head contact. I'll leave this one to the league, who have suspended Sorkin 3 games. Losing Schoen for any length would be a big blow to the Phantoms.
Seeing 3 players get their first goals in a game is great. There is so much promise with this team. We'll be back at it tonight and we'll see how the second round goes. Basse stopped 20 of 22 and looked sharp, especially during a couple flurries in the second where he was stopping multiple chances from multiple angles. It will be interesting to see if he gets the nod tonight or if Purcell does.
It was a decent crowd last night for a Friday in the fall, 1,121. Let's try to keep that up or beat it. So, without further ado, let me introduce some players in the highlights.
Welcome to the USHL, Linden Alger!
Reilly Funk's celebrates his first USHL goal!
John Beaton scores his first USHL goal!