Another late recap, I suppose you're getting used to that. Saturday's game was a hard one to describe. If you're a glass half full type person you saw two of the best periods of hockey the Covelli has seen in a while. The glass half empty camp saw how a bad first period lead to a loss despite throwing everything and then some at the Fargo Force's net in the second and third. Both sides are correct.

Coming off a win where we let the Force come back to force (pun intended) a shootout the question was who would have the momentum going into the tilt on Saturday. The answer was evident at the beginning of the game that it was Fargo. The Force scored just a second shy of the 2 minute mark and tallied for goals before the first period buzzed sounded. John Baiocco, Andrew McDonald, Garrick Grey and Aaron Herdt all got a goal and most of them were from screens, deflections and rebounds. Net front presence was the key. Fargo outshot the Phantoms 14-10 but the score was a much better indicator of the Forces domination of the period, especially attack zone time.

The Phantoms came out a different team in the second. Defenseman Steven Ruggerio took an early slashing penalty but his teammates killed most of it and Fargo's Christopher Buchanan evened things up with just 0:03 left. Luke Stork won the faceoff and with Ruggerio racing to the bench from the penalty box and, I believe but am not certain, Conor Lemirande jumped into the play and stormed to the net. Stork fired a shot and the Force's goalie, Brendan Jensen, made the initial save but the rebound landed on the stick of Ryan Schwalbe who buried the shot and cu the deficit to 3. The Phantoms would outshoot Fargo 20-4 in the frame but still trailed by 3 going into the 3rd.

The Phantoms kept their foot on the gas pedal in the 3rd. A slew of penalties at the end of the 2nd lead to a 4-on-3 powerplay for the Phantoms. Tyler Spezia's rebound came out to Luke Stork and the 2nd year Phantom cut the lead to 2 with 19:29 left to play. The Phatoms would go on to outshoot the Force 19-5 in the final period and with 1:05 left in the game Tommy Parran entered the zone with the puck and made a cross ice dump to the right of the Fargo net. The puck bounced out to JJ Piccinich, who was on the ice as the extra attacker with the Phantoms netminder, Colin DeAugustine, pulled for the extra attacker. Piccinich shot the puck off the hop from the boards and Maxim Letunov deflected the shot passed Jensen to bring the score to within a goal. But despite multiple good scoring opportunities, the Phantoms were unable to get the tying goal past Jensen, who was undeniably the reason the Force held on to win.

DeAugustine played well. I couldn't find much fault of his with the early goals, he had too much traffic in front of him. If the Phantoms had played the first 20 minutes like they did the second 40 minutes they would have easily defeated any team in the league. I don't want to make excuses about missing key players since we had almost the same lineup as the night before. The only difference was Steve Ruggerio replacing Alex Smith who was suspended for 1 game, I assume for a checking from behind penalty the night before. I don't think that made any difference. The Phantoms may have been able to score more had they generated more traffic in front of Jensen. We eventually outshot them 49-23 overall and 39-9 after the first period. A lot of those shots, especially through the first 2 periods were straight on with Jensen able to see them all the way. This has been an issue over the beginning of the season and I hope the success the Phantoms had later in the game serves as a lesson that getting guys in the dirty areas is a recipe for cooking up goals.

If anything, it was an entertaining game and an entertaining weekend. Both teams played hard and showed a good brand of hockey, win or lose. If you can't appreciate that then I feel sorry for you. I hope we can see some more of that the upcoming weekend against Muskegon.

The Phantoms came into last nights game hungry for a win and so did the Fargo Force. The question was which team was hungrier to get 2 points in the standings. 65 minutes and the first 3 shooters of the shootout weren't enough to answer the question. Fortunately for the Phantoms, they came out of the fourth round of the shootout with the extra point and another notch in the W column.

The Phantoms opened the scoring just :55 into the game when Zach Evancho decided he sick of being held off the scoresheet and buried a one-timer set up by Josh Melnick, who slid a nice pass into the slot where Evancho could hammer if home for his first goal and point of the season. The Phantoms extended the lead at 7:20 when Blake Christensen was hauled down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. The Phantoms forward strolled in towards the Force's netminder, made a couple obligatory stick moves before ripping it stick side before the Fargo goalie, Cameron Johnson, could get his blocker up.

The Force weren't going to go away quietly however. The remainder of the first the Force manages to control the puck and got a lot of good attack zone time and managed to out shoot Youngstown 13-8, due in part to 4 powerplays for the Force in the 1st period. Phantoms goalie, Colin DeAugustine, at times was peppered in net but stood strong and stopped them all. In the second the Phantoms managed to tilt the ice back in their favor, evening up the shot count to 20 each and notching their 3rd goal when defensman Kyle Mackey hammered home a shot from near the boards at a rough angle. Mackey's goal, his first of his USHL career was setup by affiliate Trey Bradly's, who's shot was stopped by Johnson but took a long rebound over to the boards to Mackey.

Well, I had about 15 minutes on Sunday to write and publish this. The writing part went OK but something somewhere in the saving and publishing to the front page ate the article. Here it is rewritten from scratch. If you missed the score and the official recap, we lost a much closer game, 3-1.

Colin DeAugustine was the starting goalie in Saturday nights tilt. Sean Romeo, who only played a period the night before, was on the scratch list. David Jech, Youngstown State University's freshman goalie and son of YSU's head coach Ron Jech, got a call to fill the bench. Steven Ruggerio got off of the scratch list to replace Fredric Larsson. I don't know if Larsson was injured or scratched for poor play the night before. Also among the missing were Kyle Connor (who's playing in the Jr. A Challenge), team captian Alfred Larsson and Keifer Sherwood on offense. Lukas Klok and Alex Carle were scratched on defense.

The game was a much tighter one than the night before and much more disciplined through the first 2 periods. The first period was scoreless with the biggest highlight being a bout of fisticuffs between Blake Christensen and Stampede captain Ed McGovern. The Stampede finally broke the double shutout a bit over thr 9 minute mark of the second period when RJ Majkozak managed to get a shot through traffic and behind DeAugustine. Howeever, with 3:31 left in the 2nd frame, Josh Nenadal tied it up. The play started with Steven Ruggerio carrying the puck almost end to end in his best Bobby Orr impersonation. Ruggerio's shot ended up taking a funny bounce and Nenadal nabbed his first goal of the season picking up the loose puck firing it while turning. Stampede goaltender David Jacobson was unable to get down on the bad angle shot as it went five-hole. The Phantoms went into the locker room tied at a goal a piece.

The start of the 3rd period was where things went downhill and quickly. The Phantoms were failed to clear the puck early, the puck hitting the linesman and staying in the zone. The Stampede were able to get control and, again, find a seam through players in front of the Phantom net and take a 2-1 lead at 1:16 into the period. The very next shift the Stampede managed even more mayham in front of the Phantoms's goal and the puck rebounded off of a Sioux Falls skate and behind DeAugustine to wrap up the scoring.

The Phantoms weren't without opportunities to get back into it but were never able to capitalize. JJ Piccinich range one off the post on a powerplay and that was about as close as they would come. They had 3 powerplay chances and failed to score, although one was cut short by 0:21 when the Phantoms took a too many men penalty. I was worried about bench minors in the absence of coach Anthony Noreen, who is with Conner at the Jr A Challenge, and we managed to avoid these kinds of mistakes until that point. For their part, the Stampede were without their top 3 scorers and played a very clean defensive game. They managed to box out traffic in front of Jacobson and keep rebounds and 2nd chance shots to a minimum, if not nil. The Phantoms seemed reluctant to just shoot the puck on net from bad angles or try to just get one through the defense. There was not a lot of push from them to generate traffic in front of the Stampede net. Nenadal's lone goal came from just firing it when he had the chance, I was hoping it would set an example but it looked like it didn't.

Despite the score I though we played a pretty even game and overall I thought we did well and just lost to the better team. We outshot the Stampede 30-24. DeAugustine looked sharp in net when he didn't have a mess of Sioux Falls players surrounding him. Our defense played a much more disciplined game, keeping things simple and not losing their cool when it counted. We needed a shoot first attitude and to crash the net and we got neither. This, to me, has been the biggest issue with the offense which until the last couple weeks had been doing well. Also, with Romeo obviously (re)injuring himself, the next couple weeks may be rough for DeAugustine who started the season in the NAHL. We have to get going on offense again. With Connor being out for the next week we really need a guy to step it up and I'm not sure about the status of Alfred Larsson or Keifer Sherwood. I think we need some of the secondary scorers to start to contribute and I'm looking at Conor Lemirande or Zack Evancho as candidates. Ryan Schwalbe also started out the season looking like a guy who could cause havoc in front of the opposing goalie, I'd like to see that again too.