Well, it was probably the worst offensive effort we're seen in a long time from the Phantoms. Despite this fact we were in the game for most of it and for a short time led, the Phantoms only managed 12 shots on net. However, the fine folks in the lower part of section 222 will probably remember this game for their near death experience in the second frame, but I'll get into that later.
The first period started well. Both teams had some jump in their step as the puck dropped. The Phantoms registered their first shot on goal within the first minute. You know it's bad when I put a stat like that in the opening description. Their next shot would be about 20:00 later when the second period started. You read that right, we only has 1 shot in the first frame. The NTDP put up 12. Despite this, we were scoreless at the Covelli heading into the first intermission.
The Phantoms seemed to be righting the ship in the second. Just passed the halfway mark of the period the Phantoms were getting shots and controlling the puck, and a face off win led to Josh DeLuca getting a goal off a rebound from a Bradly Marek shot at 10:35. Shots were 7-4 Phantoms in the frame at this stage. The next 2:09 would be fatal.
Coming out of his own end, Dylan Peterson hit Ty Smilanic at the mid-ice line. Smilanic, playing his first USHL game since an injury in late October, split Aiden Gallacher and put a puck 5-hole under Dominic Basse at 11:13. At 11:53, Jacob Truscott put a pass from the blueline to the left faceoff circle and the cocked stick of Daniyal Dzhaniyev on the right side of the crease for a one-time tap in. And to really make it hurt, USA won the ensuing faceoff and controlled the zone. Yusaku Ando had a chance to clear the puck but was stripped trying to skate it out, leading to a Chase Yoder pass to Matthew Beniers on top of the crease to poke it under the sliding Basse at 12:43.
The wheels came off in short order, it was fitting the glass came out too. Shortly after the 3rd USA goal, Aiden Gallacher rode Hunter Strand into the boards right in front of your's truly. This dislodged the entire pane of glass from both stanchions, which swiveled in with tremendous force. I was able to quickly block the glass, then myself and a couple others were able to stabilize it in the frame. At one point I remember having to stand up to hold it steady and was shouting onto the ice for the ref to stop the game. They finally did after a few seconds, an eternity to me, and John Larkin came to help lower the glass to a safer position on the ice.
Jake Suede got his first career USHL goal shortly after play resumed, tipping a Garrett Dahm shot on net. NTDP netminder Drew Commesso made the initial save but Suade stuck with the puck and bunted it out of mid-air for a goal at 13:59. USA outshot us 11-9 in the period but we were in the game and it looked like the third would be a competitive period and it was anyone's game.
I'll make this easy. We only got 2 shots on net. USA got as many goals in the last 20:00. Dylan Peterson took a pass from Thomas Borderleau and walked by Nikolai Jenson and threw one past Basse at 11:05. A misplayed dump in led to a NTDP stretch pass that sprung Luke Tuch on a partial breakaway. Tuch launched a wrister from the slot, just above the hash marks, beating Basse cleanly with 1:21 left in the game.
Two of the three periods were just painful to watch. The middle frame was better, just physically painful if you were the one blocking the swinging glass. For most of the game the Phantoms seemed complacent to let the NTDP dictate the play. Rather than set something up or change the strategy, we simply reacted to the play of Team USA. When we did have the puck, a good part of the plays up ice were dump and change, poor ones at that. When the Phantoms did chase the dump ins, it was one player while the rest waited high near the blueline for something to happen rather than make it happen.
The PK stopped all 5 of the NTDP powerplays. We only got 2 ourselves and did nothing on them. I'll call out a missed opportunity here though. In the 3rd, down by 2, Dylan Peterson took a high stick call on Cade Lemmer with a little over 8:00 left in the game. The refs arm went up immediately but Lemmer had to get a few pushes and punches in, earning him a roughing call of his own. I've said it a million times, you don't ever win engaging like that with USA kids in full face gear. He shouldn't have retaliated in this situation with any player, regardless of team, but against a U18 player in face gear, it's pretty damn pointless.
It was a good attendance and with this being our last game before the new year, we should finish with well over 1,300 for an average attendance. I don't have the figures from last night but hitting 1,400 or better to finish off 2019 is not out of the question. That would be pretty spectacular for Youngstown and a huge stick tap goes out to the organization. I don't have any highlights from the game so this may be it for 2019's recaps.