Win·ning /ˈwiniNG/ adjective 1. gaining, resulting in, or relating to victory in a contest or competition.
It’s been some time since this word has been thrown around when discussing the Youngstown Phantoms, so I thought we all could use a refresher. DAMN, did that feel good! It is often said that you cannot truly appreciate the good without experiencing the bad. For example, you cannot truly appreciate Red Lobster until you have eaten at White Castle. The Phantoms snapped a 10 game losing streak on Friday with not only a win, but a convincing win against the Dubuque Fighting Saints. This win was the icing on the cake that was a weekend of hockey that one year ago we didn’t get to watch.
This time last year, we were just starting to see the effects of a deadly virus that was ravaging the world. We thought we had a handle on what was going on. Maybe hockey will be back in a couple weeks. This is just a short speed bump, and things will return to normal soon. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. But, we didn’t know any better. When last season was postponed, we were able to get a few minutes with Andrew Goldman on the podcast we were recording that day. One thing he said in that interview has stuck with me for the past year. “Everyday, something happens that the day before, we wouldn’t have thought possible.” I felt like that line was tattooed on the inside of my eyelids for the past 52 weeks. Everyday, it became more and more true.
So back to my original point. One year ago, we sat in our homes. No one knew what was going to happen next. Hockey, our health, our jobs, the ability to sit down in a restaurant and enjoy cheddar bay biscuits. So much was unknown, and it was frightening. Fast forward to this last Friday. Positive cases are down across the country. There are 3 vaccines available, and millions are getting shots every day. Businesses are opening up, restrictions are being eased. And there was hockey at the Covelli Centre. More than any other game this season, this one felt special. And going through what we did a year ago allowed this weekend to feel that much more appreciated.
So with all of that being said, let’s get into the numbers.
It really makes you wonder what the Phantoms record would look like if Dubuque was either really good this season, or had to bow out. 4 of Youngstown’s 7 wins are against the Saints. 8 out of 19 total points. I guess we’ll take what we can get at this point. The percentages have leveled off in this series after six games. The Phantoms still hold an edge with 2 games remaining that have yet to be rescheduled. Friday was only the 2nd game Dubuque has lost since January 1st when they scored the first goal. This was Youngstown’s first home win this season when not scoring first. (1-8-1-0)
This weekend, the Phantoms are off to Plymouth for a 3-in-3 series with the NTDP U17’s. The season series between these squads are only 2 games old, a shootout loss on January 15th and a loss in regulation the next night. This has not been a great season for the U17’s. The USHL doesn’t separate team stats for Team USA, so I do! While the U18’s are cruising with an 11-6-0-2 (24 pts) record, the U17’s are limping along at 6-7-3-1 (16pts). And the junior squad loves free hockey. They are 0-3 in games ending in overtime, and 2-1 in shootouts. Their 6 extra frame games are tied with Youngstown, who has played twice as many games (34 games to 17 games), and trail only Chicago (11 in 41 games) and Muskegon (7 in 38 games). Overall, their percentages are hovering around the Phantoms numbers, so it’s safe to say this is not a great squad. The possibility for points this weekend are definitely there.
For the most part, the teams are settling into their places in the rankings. As the season goes on, a really good or really bad weekend only moves the needle by about 1.0%. Again, Team USA is the exception because both squads separately have played half as many games as the rest of the conference. So good or bad, their numbers can still jump up and down by 3-4%. The only real battle is still between Chicago and Green Bay for the top spot in “Lead Time”. Green Bay has 5 games in hand as far as chasing Chicago. So as they catch up game-wise, the overall standings and the “Lead Time” rankings will surely get much tighter.
That’s all for today. Thanks for reading along! And stay thirsty, my friends!