Chad Veltri covers the puck in a 4-1 loss to the Sioux Falls Stampede.

After a bit of controversy last weekend, last night looked like the Phantoms could have used a little bit of "us against the world" anger to wake up. Maybe you can't blame them for being tired, last week was a long one and with the season winding down and heading towards the playoffs, it might be a lot to expect them to have much left in the tank this weekend.

The Phantoms looked good in the first part of the opening frame. They jumped out to an early lead on the powerplay with their first shot of the game. Ben Schoen would grab the puck after it was tipped off the stick of Brett Murray along the boards and cut through the faceoff circle into the slot where he ripped a shot that beat Stampede Netminder Alec Calvaruso at 3:58. Seeing Brett Murray hug Schoen for the goal celebration is a funny sight with the size difference.

The Phantoms would carry the play through much of the period but did not muster much in shots on goal. The Stampede would eventually grab some momentum and answered back late. A failed clearing attempt by Steve Holtz would end up on the stick of Jared Wescott at the blueline. Wescott would pass it to Cade Borchardt on the goal line near the boards and go to the front of the net to recieve the pass back from Borchardt for a defletiion that beat Chad Veltri at 17:13. Shots were 13-3 for the Stampede in the period.

The Phantoms celebrate Trevor Kuntar's game winning goal with 1.5 seconds left on the clock.

Okay, this was a weird game.

I have to start the recap by mentioning what you probably already have heard. The Phantoms were involved in a scuffle with the NTDP U18s on Saturday night as the final buzzer sounded that resulted in several players on both sides, as well as the NTDP Head Coach, John Wroblewski, getting suspended. Analyzing that mess, I will save for another day.

The result was yesterday morning it was announced that due to a "scheduling conflict" the U18s were not making the trip to Youngstown but instead sending the U17s.

The behind the scenes report is that due to the fight, they were not "dressing any draft eligible players" except Danny Weight and instead calling up the U17 players. That came straight from an alert from the NHL's Central Scouting Service.

As pointed out by Ryan Hardy, the GM of the Chicago Steel, this was not a true call up situation since they sent the full U17 coaching staff. So we got the U17s, possibly a break for the Phantoms, but still an awkward situation at best for the team, league and USA Hockey. For their part, the Phantoms would be without the services of Tristian Amonte, Josh DeLuca, and Christian Stoever. To fill in we dressed and played affiliate forward Garrett Steele, and affiliate netminder Collin Purcell backed up Chad Veltri.

Chad Veltri watches a puck go by as the Phantoms defense battles in a tight contest.

The good news, the Phantoms won again against the Green Bay Gamblers and pulled within a game and a half of the second spot in the Eastern Conference.

The bad news, they had to do it without forward Joseph Abate who was injured in Staturday's game. Abate may miss more than just this one but that'll be a discussion for the next preview.

The Phantoms jumped out on top when Tyler Spott attempted a short pass to Brady Meyer just inside the Gamblers blueline. Matthew Barnaby read the play and picked off the pass and skated into the slot where he ripped a wrist shot in the face of defenseman Xan Gurney that netminder Ryan Ullan was unable to get more than a piece of and it found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead at 7:28.

The Gamblers evened things up late in the first when Jesse Tucker made a nice pass from the top of the right faceoff circle to Austin Heidemann a few feet to the left of the net. Heidemann was able to make the sharp angle shot and Chad Veltri, in net for a sixth concecutive start, was unable to get across to stop it at 17:43.

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