Tensions flare between the Phantoms and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. It's funny sometimes what a difference 24 hours can make for a team. After a lackluster performance the night before the Phantoms turned it around to make short work of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders who have given the fits the past three games. It was a much needed win, not just for points in the standings but also for the moral of the team and fans.

Things got of to a fast start. An odd bounce off the back boards had the puck eluding RoughRiders goaltender Bruno Bruveris behind the net. Justin Varner (credited on the score sheet to Chase Pietila) centered the puck to the crease and Shane Lechance managed to shove it in for his first USHL goal at 3:01 of the opening frame. The Phantoms extended the lead to a pair on a powerplay. With Cole Burtch in the box for holding, Kyle Bettens (again, credited to Morgan Winters officially) fed the puck to Jaden Grant alone in the low slot. Grant managed a quick short-side shot as he cut across the top of the crease, beating Bruveris at 14:33. The Phantoms were outshot by the 'Riders 9-8 in the first period.

The teams exchanged goals in the second. The 'Riders David Chen throwing a puck towards the net where it appeared to take a bounce off of Kenta Isogai and and managed to sneak in the side of Kyle Chauvette's net at 3:14. The Phantoms pushed the lead back to 2 goals when, on a rush up ice, Stiven Sardarian hit Ryan Alexander with a pass from the left face off circle to the right. Alexander had to stop and corral the puck to shoot it and whipped a laser to beat Bruveris at 7:31 of the second. Shots were 13-8 Phantoms in the middle frame.

The third saw another exchange of goals with the first coming just 0:17 into the period for the 'Riders but not without a very scary incident tied to it. Cole Burtch took a pass coming across the Phantoms blueline. TJ Schweighardt stepped into him with a solid body check, clean, legal, and hard. Burtch went down as the puck rolled to Grant Ahcan who snapped the puck passed Chauvette, beating him glove side from the top of the left faceoff circle.

However, Burtch did not get back up. Initially there was some rolling movement from the former Phantom but he was quickly attended to, players from both sides crowding around. He appeared to be immobilized and after several very nervous minutes for everyone in the Covelli, he was put on a stretcher and taken off the ice via the Zamboni entrance where you could see the lights from the ambulance as he was transported to the hospital. As of Sunday morning, we do not know any details. Schweighardt was immediately challenged and fought Nate Hanley.

A slashing call to Winter Wallace lead to a 'Riders powerplay later in the period. Kyle Bettens stripped Brenden Fitzgerald at the 'Riders blueline and was off on a breakaway. Bettens deaked once, and fired a shot over the reaching glove of Bruveris at 5:43 for a shorthanded goal. That would punctuate the scoring for the Phantoms and the night, but there were still some fireworks left. Tempers had been rising all game, even before the Burtch injury. There were lots of cheap shots being thrown, mostly by Cedar Rapids, and few calls to settle things. This ended in Kyle Bettens getting the (as of now unofficial) Gordie Howe Hat Trick when he dropped the gloves and fought Joe Flemming, who was on the receiving end of a major last weekend for a high hit to the head of Kenta Isogai.

It was a great feeling getting a win at home to stop a big winless streak, even better in a game we lead most of the way. Getting ahead and carrying the momentum have been two issues lately, so this was important. Aside from seeing a player injured as Burtch was, it was a great night for Youngstown hockey. The crowd was not huge but the 700+ were loud and appreciative of the effort. We'll see if the Phantoms can carry that into the game against Chicago, a 4:05pm Sunday game. The Steel played the weekend in Plymouth against the NTDP U18s so it might be a match of who has any gas left in the tank, home ice being an advantage there. So without further ado, here's a few highlights.

Shane Lechance nets his first USHL goal!



Jaden Grant buries a PP goal!


Kyle Bettens with the unassisted shorty!



Bettens vs Flemming... fight!

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