If there were any doubts left about the Phantoms ability to dominate their division rival the Bloomington Thunder they were erased yesterday morning. In front of a rather light School Day crowd, and without star player Kyle Connor, the Phantoms piled on the goals in a 9-3 rout in the Thunder's last visit to the Covelli during the regular season. Before it was all over seven players for Youngstown recorded goals and fourteen players put points on the sheet including an assist from Lukas Craggs, who was playing his first game of the season. Six players had multi-point games and James Winkler and Chase Pearson both had multi-goal games. Chris Birdsall would get the nod in net, his first start in five games going back to the 5-4 OT loss in Dubuque on 10/17.

Things started out quickly. Trey Bradley took an early double minor for high-sticking at 3:09 into the first. Bloomington jumped on the chance and 0:09 after the penalty, Vince Pedrie put them up 1-0, beating Chris Birdsall. That lead lasted less and three minutes as The Phantoms killed the second minor and Alec Mehr took a hooking penalty at the 5:41 mark: Josh Melnick scored 0:12 later when he took a pass from Matt Alvaro and wristed a shot through traffic that eluded Thunder goalie David Jacobsen. The floodgates opened and Trey Bradley cut through the Bloomington defense, showing his great skating ability, and dished the puck over to Kevin Conley who tucked it up behind the crossbar 0:51 after the first goal. Then just 0:46 later, Kris Mylarri get his first USHL goal after firing a shot that tipped off a stick or skate in front and took a funky hop up and over the goal line. The goal was initially credited to Lomberg who was later credited with an assist on the play after the goal was changed and awarded to Mylarri. That's three goals in 1:37 seconds. Chase Pearson would one-time a pass from Ryan Lomberg and round out the first period scoring with a little over 5:00 left in the frame.

Second verse, pretty much the same as the first. With Logan Halladay in net to replace Jacobsen, the Thunder took and early penalty allowing Kiefer Sherwood to tally at the 2:50 mark, assist to Max Letunov. Another quick penalty put the puck on Chase Pearson's stick again for a goal at 3:52, his second with assists to Sherwood and Letunov. James Winkler would net his first USHL goal just 0:22 after that for the third goal in 1:36. Lukas Craggs would be credited with the secondary assist on the Winkler goal. Tommy Parran would finish up the third peirod scoring at 16:54 with another powerplay goal. 

Well, sorry about the super-late recap. I had to work over 13 hours in Akron the Sunday after the game and the rest of the week didn't go much better. After putting up one of the more dominate performances the Phantoms have shown us at home in recent memory, they faced the same team in a quick turnaround game that promised some fireworks, and not the kind on the Phantoms Fireworks shelves. After the worst beating in the Thunder's short team history, we all knew they wouldn't be heading back to Bloomington without trying to get something positive going and that the Phantoms would need to stick to their game plan to secure a weekend sweep. Neither team disappointed the Covelli crowd.

For the Phantoms, Vas Kolias would sit out the game serving a single game suspension for charging the Thunder's goalie in the previous game. He was lucky to get off with just that. He was replaced by Ty Farmer, who needs the ice time anyway. The Phantoms would also add James Winkler for a full 21 players on the bench. Collin DeAugustine would get the nod in goal, contrary to my predictions. The Thunder, with David Jaconbsen out, would have to rely on Logan Halladay again after he played most of the previous game. The Thunder would also sit Logan Lambdin and Tanner Salsberry in favor of Jalen Smerek and Joshua Shellman. 

If the rivalry between our Youngstown Phantoms and the expansion franchise Bloomington Thunder wasn't official before, then it is after last night. The Phantoms put a heavy beating on the Eastern Conference newcomers in a way that is sure to not sit well with the Thunder. Coming off of a weekend where they bounce back from a 5-4 loss in OT to a 6-0 win the next night in Dubuque, the Phantoms added another 2 points in the standings by knocking off the Thunder 6-1. The story of the night wouldn't be even strength scoring either. This was a match filled with a lot of penalties and special teams, and this season the Phantoms thrive on special teams. 

The first period started slow enough with only a handful of shots through the first 10:00 or so. The Bloomington defense was looking very solid and clogging up the neutral zone very effectively. The Phantoms were unable to generate much in the way of transition up ice and had some difficulty getting into the Thunder's end and generating attack zone time. The Phantoms even squandered a little 4-on-4 time, failing to get good rubber on Bloomington's starter, David Jacobsen. The Phantoms finally broke through on a PP, Ryan Lomberg blasting one from the point to make it 1-0 with just 0:32 left in the period. As a bit of foreshadowing, the Phantoms Connor Yau took a holding penalty :17 after and as the buzzer sounded to end the period, Ryan Lomberg and Matt Mendelson matched each other's  minor penalty in a little rough play that was called cross-checking and unsportsmanlike conduct respectively. Colin DeAugustine stopped all 14 shot of the period, this his second consecutive start.