After an uneventful first period, and the Phantoms being outshot 6-3, we opened the scoring early in the second. Cole Burtch, just off the bench, stole the puck outside the attack zone and skated in for a shot that was deflected aside by Steel netminder Nick Haas. Burtch took his own rebound behind the net and centered it to Yusaku Ando who deflected it in at 2:04.
The Steel's Adam Robbins tied it a short time later when a clearing attempt failed to move the puck and it settled on Robbins stick in the slot where he snapped a wrister, beating Mattais Sholl at 4:29. The Steel took a brief lead when defenseman Ian Moore decided to skate down from the blueline, launching a backhander from below the left faceoff circle at an odd angle that beat Sholl up high at 7:43
The Phantoms would get the lead back before the middle frame ended. Jack Silich ran over Steel defender Jack Babbage as Silich carried the puck up ice, creating a 2-on-1, with Moore defending. Moore was not able to take away the pass to Riley Duran who tied it at 11:00. Moments later, the Phantoms found themselves on a powerplay and defenseman Mike Brown just threw a puck at the net that handcuffed Haas, giving the Phantoms a lead 3-2 at 12:43. Shots were 12-7 Phantoms in the second and led 3-2 going into the final 20:00 of regulation.
The Steel evened it back up quickly in the third period, with Jack Babbage wristing a puck from the blueline through traffic and behind Sholl at 1:05. The Steel took the lead again when Matt Coronato took a lazy pass from Georgii Merkulov at the blueline, both sides with a man in the penalty box. Coronato took off up ice on a breakaway and put it in just as the penalty expired to the Phantoms Brayden Stannard, a shorthanded goal at 14:43.
The Steel's lead would again be short lived. With the Phantoms still on the powerplay, Bennett Zmolek took a shot from the blueline that Haas initially saved, but Will Hillman was parked in front of the net to take care of the rebound and we were again tied at 15:36 and heading to overtime. Shots were 14-8 Phantoms in the third period.
OT was short lived. A late third frame penalty to Winter Wallace for crosschecking led to a 4-on-3 powerplay, and a one-timer from Coronato just 0:36 in on the first shot of OT ended the weekend for the Phantoms. Shots in the game were 29-22 Phantoms.
Where to begin. Yes, it's great we played the league's best pretty evenly, even beating them in some categories. It's frustrating because we could have, and should have won this. We scored first and outshot them. Our powerplay was 2/4 and our penalty kill was 4/4 in regulation, 4/5 overall. Sholl played a great game in net despite the 5 goals against. A few less mistakes and we get 2 points in regulation here. We've scored first the last 5 games and only won one of those, a 1-2-2-0 record. That's a trend that I think is really indicative of how the season has gone.
We had 1,049 in attendance last night. In this pandemic, that is outstanding. I just wish the final had been a little different, but fans were treated to an exciting game nonetheless. Unless you were trying to read the numbers, the Military Appreciation jerseys were pretty awesome to see in action, too. Our thought and prayers went out to Mr. Matt Lipcsak who had to call the game though, the red on black numbers were not easy to read. Anyway, here is the only Phantoms goal in the end I could film, but it's the best highlight of the game.
Hillman ties it late!