The Phantoms beat the Storm in their second game in Cranberry, PA at the 2019 USHL Fall ClassicUSHL Fall Classic 2019 - The Phantoms beat the Storm in their second game in Cranberry, PA at the 2019 USHL Fall Classic

The second game of the USHL Fall Classic went quite a bit different for the Phantoms. Some minor changes to the lineup and some tweaks to the game plan, and the game against Tri-City looked like night and day over the previous game against Cedar Rapids, earning the Phantoms their first regular season win in Cranberry. (Which actually goes back to an Oct. 10th, 2015 loss to Chicago) 

The first frame was pretty even, the Storm holding a slight edge in shots, 12-9, but neither team cracked the others force field in goal. The Phantoms struck early in the second on the powerplay. An Aiden Gallacher point shot on Storm netminder Joe Sharib left a rebound in the crease, giving multiple Phantoms second chance shots, and Arseni Smekhnov put in home at 2:35 of the second. A few minutes later, Trevor Kuntar was next to take advantage of a rebound from a Gallacher shot. After the defenseman drove into the right faceoff circle leading the rush and got a nice shot on Sharib, Kuntar swooped in and whipped in the second goal of the night at 5:14.

The Phantoms took a 3-0 lead before the Storm really even started to push back. On the powerplay once again, Matthew Cassidy carried the puck up the left wing boards. Josh DeLuca got behind Storm defenseman Calvin Dybicz, and Cassidy laid an aerial saucer pass right to the tape of DeLuca's stick. DeLuca had just enough time and space to drag the puck to his forehand and net the first true highlight reel goal of the season at 9:01

The Phantoms drop game 1 of the season in Cranberry, PA at the 2019 USHL Fall ClassicUSHL Fall Classic 2019 - The Phantoms drop game 1 of the season in Cranberry, PA at the 2019 USHL Fall Classic

For the second consecutive year, the USHL opened the regular season in Cranberry Township, PA with the Fall Classic. The Phantoms made the short bus trip over and their first opponent of the season was the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

The Riders finished tied with us in points at the end of last season (77) with us having the tiebreaker in ROW to decide between 3rd and 4th place in the East. The Riders went on to bump USA out of the 3 game first round only to fall to Chicago 3-1 in the second. The Phantoms lost the first round to Dubuque, but you already knew that.

The Phantoms got off to a rocky start in the first game, never to fully recover. The first period saw last year's affiliate Cade Lemmur take a questionable roughing call early in the frame and the Riders wasted no time. Some quick perimeter movement saw the puck move from Ben Meehan in the left faceoff circle to Will Francis at the point, to Dante Lawson in the right circle, who ripped a shot that netminder Dominick Basse flinched at but never got a piece of for a goal at 4:41, just 0:12 into the penalty kill. Basse might have been screened on the play.

Gianfranco Cassaro sets up to move the puck out of his defensive zone.The Playoffs Are Underway! - Gianfranco Cassaro sets up to move the puck out of his defensive zone.

The Phantoms came out last night to play a physical game, it was obvious from the start. When the Phantoms lead with the Needham, DeLuca, and Amonte line, they probably mean to throw some checks. Unfortunately, we forgot to play the skilled shooting game and now have to win tonight and tomorrow night to stay alive.

I guess it should have been a sign that 0:40 into the game, Tristian Amonte took a checking from behind penalty. We put him out there to hit people, I guess that's to be expected. The first frame was pretty uneventful outside of that. The Phantoms were outshot 11-4 but neither side put up any goals.

The Phantoms did jump out to a lead in the second. After a Matthew Barnaby goal was waived off for interference earlier in the period, Brett Murray capitalized on a misplayed puck by the Dubuque defense. On a simple play where Jeppe Urup sent a pass up the boards and Brett Murray tipped it into the zone where in came to Saints' defenseman Luke Robinson in the corner . Robinson tried to push the puck back up ice one handed as he turned but ended up settling the puck for the charging Murray with his back turned to the oncoming Phantoms' leading scorer. Murray wasted no time in scooping the puck up and putting a sharp angle shot on net from the goal line that surprised Saint's netminder Matthew Thiessen for a goal at 10:21.