The Phantoms came into Saturday looking to sweep the weekend series and get off to a 2-0 start in the season rivalry between them and the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The Jacks just wanted to win a game. Only one team was going to get their wish and the Phantoms found ways to make it theirs.
Muskegon seemed to have a step on the Phantoms to start the game. Phantoms goaltender Colin Purcell, making his first start in Youngstown seemed ready to step up to the challenge. The Phantoms could barely muster more than a few shots on goal, but managed to score first when Reilly Funk and Yusaku Ando were able to get behind the Jacks defense, with Muskegon really fumbling the defensive assignments, and Ando backhanded the Funk pass home at 12:58, beating 'Jacks netminder Jack Williams.
The Jacks got one back late in the first while shorthanded. With a Jack in the box, pun intended, Luke Mobley blocked an Aiden Gallacher shot and went the other way on a breakaway. He went straight up the slot and made a simple forehand to backhand move, flipping the puck in on Purcell stick side with :19 seconds left in the period. Shots were 12-5 in the frame and the Phantoms were lucky to be tied.
The second frame was much the same as the first, the Jacks getting a lot of rubber on Purcell and the Phantoms not really getting a lot in the way of offense for themselves. However, the Phantoms took the lead back when an errant bank pass by Dylan Gratton went to Garrett Dahm instead, leading to a flurry of chances by Matthew Cassidy and Arseni Smekhnov, with the Russian forward scoring a goal at 6:55. Shots were 14-8 Muskegon.
The Phantoms pushed the lead to 2 goals early in the third when Reilly Funk won a clean faceoff in the Jacks zone back to Trevor Kuntar, who's point shot was stopped by Williams. Both Ando and Funk tried to get a shot off on the rebound, with Funk succeeding and scoring the goal.
The Jacks AJ Hodges would see a little room to shoot from the left faceoff circle on the rush, getting one back for Muskegon at the 8:22 mark. That was all the Jacks would get and the 3-2 score was the final. Shots were 12-10 in the third, and 38-23 Jacks overall.
The Phantoms were outshot and somewhat out played for a good part of the game but they made the most of their chances. This was without Ben Schoen, who may be out for a while, but that's something I'll cover another day. Colin Purcell played great but also relied a little on luck. The Jacks hit a lot of posts and the puck sometimes seemed to dance on the goal line without crossing it, especially in the second period. The Kuntar, Funk, and Ando line continues to impress, as do players like Arseni Smekhnov.
The Jacks are a hot mess. With us playing them 6 more times, it will be interesting to see how heated this rivalry gets this season.
It was a smaller crowd last night, 805. The next home games are a Sunday and Monday pair, we won't see big crowds for either. It is what it is, and we'll have to wait until mid-November after that. Anyway, here are a couple highlights.
Yusaku Ando scores a goal!
Reilly Funk scores a goal!