Trevor Kuntar boxes out a Capitols player as the Phantoms lose their home opener in a heartbreaking OT loss to Madison.

We're finally to the home opener, and after a few days of sitting in the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, I'm really glad for my seat at the Covelli. It seemed at first that the familiar setting was good for the Phantoms too, but it might have been too much of a good thing. Complacency kills and there is no such thing as a safe lead in hockey.

The Phantom started where they left off in Cranberry. The Capitols took an early penalty, and the Phantoms wasted no time. Trevor Kuntar sent a shot-pass from the point to the stick of Matthew Cassidy, who tipped it behind Caps netminder Simon Latkoczy just 0:48 into the game and only :07 into the penalty. Less than 2:00 later, John Beaton fed a pass to a wide open John Larkin at the top of the slot. The veteran defenseman wasted no time unloading a shot that lit the lamp at 2:17.

Jacob Felker took a slashing call for the Phantoms, leading to the Capitols first goal off the stick of Ryan Kirwin with Brockton Baker setting a good screen on Phantoms goaltender McClean Dorr at 6:50.

The Phantoms would add a pair more, the first off the stick of Yusako Ando who put home a rebound off a Linden Alger shot on the power play at 11:04. Young defenseman Austen May added added another at 17:11, rifling a shot through traffic that found the back of the net. Shots in the frame were 14-12 Phantoms, and we led by 3.

The Phantoms beat the Storm in their second game in Cranberry, PA at the 2019 USHL Fall Classic

The second game of the USHL Fall Classic went quite a bit different for the Phantoms. Some minor changes to the lineup and some tweaks to the game plan, and the game against Tri-City looked like night and day over the previous game against Cedar Rapids, earning the Phantoms their first regular season win in Cranberry. (Which actually goes back to an Oct. 10th, 2015 loss to Chicago) 

The first frame was pretty even, the Storm holding a slight edge in shots, 12-9, but neither team cracked the others force field in goal. The Phantoms struck early in the second on the powerplay. An Aiden Gallacher point shot on Storm netminder Joe Sharib left a rebound in the crease, giving multiple Phantoms second chance shots, and Arseni Smekhnov put in home at 2:35 of the second. A few minutes later, Trevor Kuntar was next to take advantage of a rebound from a Gallacher shot. After the defenseman drove into the right faceoff circle leading the rush and got a nice shot on Sharib, Kuntar swooped in and whipped in the second goal of the night at 5:14.

The Phantoms took a 3-0 lead before the Storm really even started to push back. On the powerplay once again, Matthew Cassidy carried the puck up the left wing boards. Josh DeLuca got behind Storm defenseman Calvin Dybicz, and Cassidy laid an aerial saucer pass right to the tape of DeLuca's stick. DeLuca had just enough time and space to drag the puck to his forehand and net the first true highlight reel goal of the season at 9:01

The Phantoms drop game 1 of the season in Cranberry, PA at the 2019 USHL Fall Classic

For the second consecutive year, the USHL opened the regular season in Cranberry Township, PA with the Fall Classic. The Phantoms made the short bus trip over and their first opponent of the season was the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

The Riders finished tied with us in points at the end of last season (77) with us having the tiebreaker in ROW to decide between 3rd and 4th place in the East. The Riders went on to bump USA out of the 3 game first round only to fall to Chicago 3-1 in the second. The Phantoms lost the first round to Dubuque, but you already knew that.

The Phantoms got off to a rocky start in the first game, never to fully recover. The first period saw last year's affiliate Cade Lemmur take a questionable roughing call early in the frame and the Riders wasted no time. Some quick perimeter movement saw the puck move from Ben Meehan in the left faceoff circle to Will Francis at the point, to Dante Lawson in the right circle, who ripped a shot that netminder Dominick Basse flinched at but never got a piece of for a goal at 4:41, just 0:12 into the penalty kill. Basse might have been screened on the play.