It's Thanksgiving week, and the Phantoms (9-6-3-0) have a full plate and I'm not talking turkey. Over the course of 4 days we'll play 3 games in 3 different cities, none of which are Youngstown.

First up, we'll work up an appetite with a trip up to Plymouth to face the NTDP U18s(11-7-0-0). Then back home for some dinner and a nap before heading up to Green Bay (9-6-1-2) on Friday then over to Madison (2-15-1-0) on Saturday for the leftovers. Yeah, we'll play almost as many road games in 1 week as we did home games over 2 weeks. Welcome to the USHL. Since I'm pressed for time to get this done before I head up to Plymouth for that game, I'm thankful we've played 2 of these teams this season and I can fall back on those preview articles.

I've already covered the U18s. Nothing much has changed here. Ty Smilanic has been out with injury, if he does make it back that'll be a big lift for the U18s. Forward Matthew Beniers and defenseman Tyler Kleven won't be in the lineup, they were both suspended for that game.

Green Bay will be the focus of this weeks article. We haven't played them yet and they have a pretty good team. Jesse Tucker was the Gamblers leading scorer last season and continues that this season with 11g, 9a. The underrated '00 is a fairly composed forward, ready to make a play or take the shot and can back check an help out on defense. Despite being injured for most of last season, McKade Webster (5g, 10a) was a late 2019 NHL Draft pick (7th round, Tampa Bay). He's a very competitive player who will use his speed to drive the defense back. Ryan O'Reilly (6g, 6a) was a 4th round Detroit pick last NHL Draft. He's bounced from Madison to Fargo and then Green Bay. He's big (6'2", 202lbs). He's got a laser shot, decent skating, and plays aggressive hockey. There is a lot to like with O'Reilly, you just hope he doesn't show it against the Phantoms.

Well, we're back for another weekend at the Covelli for one more weekend before another road stand. The good news for the Phantoms (8-6-2-0) is that they get to play host to one of the leagues weakest opponents, the Sioux Falls Stampede (2-10-2-0). We've been down this road before, and lost, so it's not something we can overlook and count as an easy week.

I'm really hard pressed to find any real stars on this team. The scoring leaders are Brian Carrebes (6g, 7a) and Tyler Coffee (6g, 5a). Both are solid prospects but not guys I would expect to lead the team. The only NHL scouting report is Garrett Pinoniemi, who raised his draft stock in the last update from 116 to 106 overall, good for a projected 4th round pick. However, Pinoniemi only has 1 assist in 12 games played. I'm not sure what these CSS scouts are seeing here.

On defense, Evan Nause is a very promising '03 born blueliner, 1g and 3a and one of the few players on the squad whose +/- rating is on the positive side at 1. Evan Bushy is another young defenseman, an '02, and leads the team in +/- at 2. Yeah, spectacular numbers on defense. If Nause and Bushy are around next season, I can see the Stampede's defense being one of the better in the league but it's still 2019.

In net, Grant Addams has carried most of the load, 10 games played with a 1-6-2-0 record. His 3.81 GAA and .888 SV% aren't exactly bad considering how poor the Stampede have looked this season. Backing him up was Nate Reid, who played 4 games for a 1-2-0-0 record with a 4.57 GAA and a .876 SV%. He was scratched last weekend and newcomer Arseni Sergeev got both starts, losing both and putting up a 7.27 GAA and a .811 SV%.

The Phantoms (7-5-2-0) are back! It seems like it's been forever since we've had hockey in Youngstown. In reality it's been about a month since the last games at the Covelli, and we've seen some ups and downs on the road. Fortunately, I think it's been more of the ups. Since the last games at home were a weekend pair against the Steel that ended pretty badly, it would be great to see the Phantoms get some home wins, but that will be a tall order against a couple tough opponents. First up is the NTDP U18s (4-0-0-0) on Saturday, then the Des Moines Buccaneers (7-5-0-1) on Sunday. Yeah, Saturday and Sunday but at least it's not Sunday and Monday.

I don't think I need to say too much about the NTDP, especially the U18s. They've won all 4 USHL games they played and just recently swept international competition at the Five Nations Tournament 4-0, taking home the gold medal. I'm not going to go into the scouting report stuff.

Thomas Bordeleau (5g, 2a) is good two-way forward, he moves the puck very well and has the ability to find space to make a play. Luke Tuch, whose brother Alex played for the NTDP as well, is a large power forward and is a lot like his brother. He can use his frame to make the space to make a play, a real beast to try to defend. To me the real raw gem on the U18s is Ty Smilanic (2g, 2a). His name hasn't been mentioned the same as some of the previous scoring forwards for the NTDP but he has the IQ, vision, hands, skating ability, etc to be a big scorer someday.

On defense they are about as stacked in talent as on offense - like, no duh right? Their blueliners sometimes don't get the credit the forwards do. Eamon Powell, Owen Gallatin, and Jake Sanderson are a few names that don't get thrown around much but will probably get a lot more notice as their careers continue. None are the biggest guys on the ice but they are all defensively responsible and really move the puck well. These guys didn't make a lot of mistakes as U17 players and as their physical size and abilities catch up to the older players, I think we'll see a lot of them at higher levels.