The Phantoms play a home & home series against the NTDP U17s.So like that, the Fall Classic is over. The Phantoms (0-2-0-0) drop both games, the first hard fought and the second was a near total regression to last season's habits. This week we get a home and home set against the USA NTDP U17 squad. I'll be honest, I don't have a whole lot of data on the U17, and no data on them against USHL opponents since they have only played NAHL teams, where they're 1-2-1-0. But at this point I think the focus should be more on us than who we play.

In 4 games against the NAHL, Austin Burnevik and Gabe Perrault both have 1g, 2a to lead the team. The latter's father, Yanic Perrault was a 14 year veteran of the NHL. Another familiar last name belongs to Carter Slaggert (1g,0a). His brothers Graham and Landon both played for the NTDP. Another player I am very interested in getting some live viewing is Gracyn Sawchyn, a Shattuck St. Mary's alumni. Sawchyn played 14U AAA at SSM with Phantoms prospect William Whitelaw in 19-20. Last season, while Whitelaw went to the SSM U18 prep squad, Sawchyn went to the U16 AAA program. Some believe politics surrounding this might have gotten Sawchyn his NTDP slot and Whitelaw cut. Just keep that fact tucked in the back of your mind until later this season.

I've got nothing on defense, so I'm skipping to netminders. Trey Augustine has played in all 4 NAHL games for a total of 93:00 and has their only win and one recorded loss. He's allowed 5 goals on 50 shots for an rvrn .900 SV% and a 3.23 GAA. Michael Chambre is the the other netminder of mention, playing in 2 of the NAHL games for a total of 80:00, allowing 4 goals on 38 shots for .905 SV% and a 3.00 GAA. 

The USHL Fall Classic is back in Cranberry.A big hello to all the Phantoms Phans and Phollowers! Okay, enough with the cheesy spelling. We're back and hopefully this will be a better season all around for the Phantoms, the USHL, and hockey in general. While the pandemic is doing a rollercoaster of ups and downs, the USHL Fall Classic is this week. The Phantoms will kick off the campaign mid-week against some foes we haven't seen in a while - the Lincoln Stars and Waterloo Black Hawks. Neither opponent had a good season in 20-21, but none were quite as bad as us. Both won 10 more games, though they played 4-5 games more. Dear Hockey Gods, I hope we are done with the missed games.

With very little data on either team, this is going to be an odd preview. Starting with Waterloo, who's biggest change is on the bench. P.K. O'Handley, who had been the head coach since 02-03, stepped off the bench for a front office role. Matt Smaby steps into some big shoes in his first year of USHL coaching, and it will be very interesting to see how this affects the Hawks.

On offense, John Waldron has the experience. While not known as a prolific scorer, he's been a consistent depth player who might just take his offensive game up another notch. In terms of returning scoring, Michael La Starza is their top point getter from last season, or at least as far as I can find. The '04 forward notched 11g and 13a last season, and he'll be someone to watch this season. Carter Batchelder is an interesting prospect, having played in the Minnesota high school system and put up very good numbers at that level.

We’ve reached that time of year. The USHL Playoffs are upon us. Aaaaaaaand, the Phantoms aren’t a part of them. Now, we’ve known this for a while. But, if you can’t make the playoffs, what is the next best way to finish out the season? That’s right! Play the spoiler!

Dubuque, after an 0-10 start to the season, was able to squeak past the NTDP for the 4th and final spot in the East. Going into the final weekend, most everyone outside of Iowa had Team USA penciled in. The Saints had a 3-in-3 with a game against Muskegon and two with Green Bay. And Team USA? 3 games against the lowly Youngstown Phantoms. Dubuque won 2 of 3, and so did the Phantoms. Some people out there with opinions stated that the Phantoms screwed USA in more ways than one. With the possible points percentage that was used to rank teams that didn’t play a full 54 game schedule, Dubuque and Green Bay actually benefited from playing less games, both of which due to being unable to reschedule postponed games with the Phantoms. That’s fair, except I would like to present Exhibit B to this argument. The U18’s were 1-3-0-1 (3 pts) in their final 5 USHL games. The U17s were 1-7-1-0 (3 pts) in their final 9 USHL games. This is from March 23rd to the end of the season. That is a combined 2-10-1-1. A potential 28 points, they got 6. But yeah, blame the Phantoms.

Now that the soapbox is back under the chair, in this playoff preview we’re going to take a look at all four 1st Round Matchups. That’s right, for the first time this season, there are numbers from the Western Conference! I’ve beat around the bush enough, so let’s jump right in. I want to point out that these charts will be from the viewpoint of the higher seeded team.

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