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.

Dalton Messina keeps a NTDP player a safe distance away from Chad Veltri as he makes sure he keeps control of the puck.Defending the Crease. - Dalton Messina keeps a NTDP player a safe distance away from Chad Veltri as he makes sure he keeps control of the puck.

And the regular season is a wrap with the Phantoms downing the NTDP U17s. 

Owen Gallatin got the NTDP on the board first. After making a great bank pass from his own end to the neutral zone to spring Hunter McKown, Gallatin jumped up from his defensive position to join the rush. McKown hit him traling the play and he put a shot on goal that somehow eluded Chad Veltri in net at 9:38. Despite being outshot 9-7, the NTDP carried the 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

The Phantoms stormed back in the middle frame, starting with a powerplay goal. Joseph Abate, back for his second game after an upper body injury, hit Gianfranco Cassaro with a cross ice pass at the blueline. The defenseman was all alone as he carried the puck to the top of the left faceoff circle and unleashed a laser shot that beat NTDP goaltender Drew Commesso at 4:21.

Matthew DeMelis put the Phantoms ahead after taking a pass from Ben Schoen near center ice. DeMelis danced around defenseman Connor Kelley, treating him pretty much as a pylon in a stick handling drill, and right by defenseman Jacob Truscott, before making a backhand to forehand move on the shot that beat Commesso at 12:17.