The Saints postponed the Friday game leaving the Phantoms a day off in Green Bay.Another Week, Another Postponement! - The Saints postponed the Friday game leaving the Phantoms a day off in Green Bay.
So, it's week 2 and I'm scrambling to find stuff to say already. Welcome to the new normal! So this week the Phantoms (1-0-0-0) are were set to play in Green Bay (1-0-0-0) on Thursday, head to Dubuque (0-2-0-0) Friday for a rematch of last weekend and then loop back to Green Bay on Saturday. Well, the Dubuque game is off, so the team has a nice layover in the Land of Cheese. That's half our games that have been postponed so far, but that's probably better than some.

The Gamblers are a very solid looking team on paper this season. They have a bevy of returning players including Jesse Tucker, their top returning scorer, who enters his third season putting up 18g and 25a last season. Adding to the Gamblers offensive front is Ryan Kirwin, who came over from Madison in the dispersal draft. Kirwin scored 25g 16a last season with the Capitols, but 6 of those goals, as well as one assist were against the Phantoms in 6 games played. Also keep an eye on Jackson Kunz. The '02 forward has a handful of affiliate games prior to this season and he scored a pair against Muskegon in the Gamblers only game so far.

On defense, it's the same as the forwards with the Gamblers returning a nice compliment of blueliners. Mason Lorhei is a good two-way guy, good at protecting his own end and can set up the play to boot. Lorhei had 8g, 29a in 48 games last season. Xan Gurney is a well traveled defenseman, having played in Chicago and Fargo prior to Dubuque. He's as tough as the come and he'll be a guy Dubuque is looking at for toughness as well as keeping their net free of pucks. Damian Carfagna is a newcomer, an '03, who is on the NHL CSS initial players to watch list so we'll... um, watch him.

After 244 days of waiting, the Phantoms play Dubuque Saturday if nothing else changes.The Phantoms Might Play Again! - After 244 days of waiting, the Phantoms play Dubuque Saturday if nothing else changes.
March 7, 2020. That was the last day the Youngstown Phantoms played a game that counted. With 244 days in between, it seems like a lot has changed. That's because a lot has changed. Now heading into the first weekend of the new season, we are just trying to figure out the basics. Instead of writing up a short scouting report, I find myself scrambling to figure out who is even playing. I'm not talking about the opposing teams, I mean our own Phantoms. With no in-person viewing, no rosters released, and very little in the way of press, this is going to be a very rough start to the season from this blogger's perspective.

First, let me start with laying out the leagues changes due to the pandemic. If you have not heard, the Madison Capitols will not participate this season due to the SARS-CoV-2 restrictions. In addition, the derecho that hit Iowa this summer left Cedar Rapids without an arena and they will be dormant this season as well. That's 2 less teams in the Eastern Conference mix. Since one of the leagues goals in the pandemic is to minimize travel, especially between conferences, that means we will be playing the same 5 teams (six if you count each USA NTDP squad separately) all season. This leads us to some really rough road trips. This week was going to be one of those, but as everything lately, things change very quickly.

We were set to play Chicago on Friday, head to Dubuque for a Saturday match, then hit Chicago again on the drive back Sunday. However, the Steel canceled some preseason games last weekend due to positive coronavirus cases. We only knew that it was Chicago due to a Muskegon press release but you can be sure the league will fix that communication issue and going forward you won't know who is infected at all. Rumor has it (emphasis added to highlight this is just a rumor), by way of USA Hockey publishing then retracting some information on the protected lists, that 8-10 players for the Steel might have been sidelined due to the virus.

Well, we made it to the last full month of the regular season. As the NCAA gears up for their "madness", USHL hockey enters its crunch time as teams work on playoff position. The Phantoms (19-21-6-2) hope to turn things around after going 0-2-1-0 last week, and this week will be looking to keep themselves in 5th place in the Eastern Conference. The good news is this week we play the first team out of the playoffs in the conference, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (18-22-4-1). The 'Riders are struggling to get back into a playoff spot, and their mounting injuries are making that a tall mountain to climb.

Leading the 'Riders in scoring is Nikolai Mayorov (24g, 13a). After playing a game in the QMJHL following his move from Russia to North America, Mayorov opted to move to the USHL and landed in Cedar Rapids. He has great speed and stick handling, his puck pursuit is good, and his shot release is exceptional. Grant Silianoff is a veteran forward with over 100 USHL games under his belt. Passed over in last years NHL draft after a hand injury, Silianoff is a high octane scorer who had good hockey IQ and keeps his head under pressure. Zach Faremouth (10g, 14a) is a player added from Fargo in a trade. Faremouth was expected to and has made an impact on the 'Riders offense. By impact on offense, I mean impact on the opposing team. Faremouth checks in at 6'2" and 218lbs and plays twice as big as that.

The blueline is where the 'Riders start having issues. They are missing a pair of very key pieces. First off, veteran player, initial team captain and Anaheim Ducks draft pick Will Francis went down with a season ending injury after 10 games. Then in January Ben Meehan, a NHL CSS ranked defenseman, went down for the rest of the season as well. Jack Millar has stepped into a top defenseman spot. The second season defenseman has used his size (6'4", 220lbs) and had a good run at the USA Junior A Challenge. Garrett Sundquist, another bigger defenseman at 6'3" and 210lbs, has been a solid addition to the 'Riders this season, posting a +/- of 15.