Christian Stoever kicks a puck aside in a 2-1 win against Cedar Rapids.The Phantoms defeat the RoughRiders. - Christian Stoever kicks a puck aside in a 2-1 win against Cedar Rapids.

Last nights game was almost a metaphore for the Eastern Conference. Two teams in almost a dead heat in the middle of the standing met and slugged it out in a 2-1 match. Fortunately, the Phantoms were the team that scored 2 as they met the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. And fortunately for me, this will be an easy recap.

The Phantoms got things rolling early. Just 1:12 into the game, off a good faceoff win by Craig Needham, Steve Holtz took a pass from Trvor Kuntar in the right corner of the 'Riders zone and sent a pass through the crease for Needham to tap behind the 'Riders netminder, Troy Kobryn. 

The Phantoms would have a bit of a lull in their game, with Cedar Rapids taking control of the offense after the early goal wake-up call. A penalty to Liam Robertson set up a quick powerplay strike for the 'Riders Nathan Smith, putting a shot top shelf over Christian Stoever's glove and just behind the crossbar at 6:53 to tie it. The Phantoms continued to struggle in the first, not registering a shot on goal for about 12:00 after their opening tally.  Shots on goal would be 12-4 in favor of the 'Riders at the end of the first.

Chad Veltri deflects a puck out of harms way in a thrilling 4-3 OT win against Sioux City.Welcome to Youngstown Chad! - Chad Veltri deflects a puck out of harms way in a thrilling 4-3 OT win against Sioux City.

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.

An unnamed Phantom fights for the puck against the Sioux City Musketeers.The snow flies! - An unnamed Phantom fights for the puck against the Sioux City Musketeers.

The Phantoms opened the New Year with a wild tilt that had them explode in the second period with 5 goals to down the Sioux City Musketeers. Okay, the Musketeers were missing their top two scorers, Martin Pospisil and Bobby Brink, but the Phantoms dominate performance was still impressive none the less.

The first period started slow with a good amount of chippiness (is that even a word? EDIT: Yes) between a pair of teams who haven't played each other since February of last year. The Musketeers would draw first blood. With Joseph Abate in the box already for a hooking call, a bad line change with a pair of Phantoms going off and a trio coming on lead to a too many men on the ice penalty and a 5-on-3 powerplay late in the period, at 19:36. The Musketeers quickly capitalized. Parker Ford won the faceoff back to Marcus Kallionkieli who skated around between the high slot and the blueline through a slew of players and a Jordan Steinmetz screen to take a 1-0 lead just 5 seconds after the faceoff. Shots were 8-7 Phantoms after the first.