Owne Bartoszkiewicz moves the puck out of harms way in a 3-0 shutout of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.The hope going into Saturday's game was that we'd be getting back some played from Covid protocol after playing shorthanded on Friday, dressing three '05 affiliates and an emergency backup goalie. Well, we got back Kenta Isogai and Evan Werner, but out went Justin Varner and Tomas Machu. To top it all off, the two Pens Elite affiliates had to go back, leaving Skogen Schrott as the only affiliate. Net result, we only had 18 players dressed last night - 11 forwards, 5 defensemen, 1 goalie, and the EBUG. It looked like it was going to be a rough night, but the Phantoms pulled it together for more than just a simple win. It was a shutout.

The Phantoms started it off in the first. RoughRiders defenseman Eric Pohlkamp, turned the puck over to Ryan Alexander just inside the 'Riders blueline as Evan Werner made himself available in the slot. Alexander one-touched the puck to Werner who dragged the puck forehand to backhand across the top of the crease before roofing a backhander over the glove of 'Riders netminder Connor Hasley at 6:35 of the first. Shots were 7-7 in the first.

The second period was Adam Ingram's time to score. A 2-on-1 with Winter Wallace quickly turned into a breakaway on net with Ingram using his speed to walk around 'Riders defenseman William Brenner. Ingram went from left to right across the crease, making Hasley open up the five hole, much as he did in the second period the night before. Time of the goal was 14:12. Shots were 18-10 Cedar Rapids in the second.

The Phantoms added one last goal in the third on a powerplay. Ingram fired a shot from the point that deflected off of one or more sticks in the crease, credited to Shane LaChance at 5:44 of the third. A scrum moments after the following faceoff lead to a major penalty for spearing to the Phantoms Nick Williams, who was otherwise having a very solid weekend. I've watched the replay a few times, it does show him jab a player with his stick as he turns away. But I don't think a major penalty was warranted, but the Phantoms killed it anyway, only allowing 2 shots on goal. Williams was also handed a 10 minute misconduct on top of the 5:00, sending him off the ice for the remainder of regulation and reducing the Phantoms to 4 defensemen. Shots were 10-6 'Riders in the third.

The big story is the emergence of Owen Bartoszkiewicz in net. He's struggled a little in most of his starts but really, really pulled it together in the absence of Kyle Chauvette and so many other key players. The 'Riders scored the first goal in the first period on Friday and never saw the back of the net again, stopping the next 60 shots. On the weekend he's a 0.50 GAA with a .984 SV%, of which I think will be good enough to score USHL Goaltender of the Week.

The special teams were a big factor again last night. The Phantoms were 1 for 4 on the PP and a perfect 3 for 3 on the PK. That brought us to 2 for 9 on the PP and 8 for 8 on the PK for the weekend. 

It was a great weekend to see guys step up their game and pretty much the whole team did that. I don't remember the last time we only dressed 5 defensemen, I think maybe the 17-18 season. 

Another story is the Covelli Centre ice. I know we're used to seeing it a little wet, especially towards the end of the game. I understand there was some issue with the cooling system last night that needed to shut the whole thing down to repair, obviously we can't do that during a game. The end result was the ice being a little on the swampy side, and a heckuva mess for the Zambonis to clean to start the third. It held up enough to play, maybe slowing things down a bit which might have favored the Phantoms.

Also, it was Military Appreciation night. With 1,993 in attendance and the Boardman HS Marching Band to get them fired up, it was a very good night to be at the Covelli. Capping it off with a shutout win was perfect. This was a weekend that can really help build a fanbase and the Phantoms pulled it off nicely. It'll be a few weeks again until we're back so hopefully we'll build off this then. Having the ice fixed would be good too. Until then, here's a couple highlights.

Evan Werner roofs a backhand!



Shane LaChance deflects one in the slot!