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Bartus Shines in Game Three as Phantoms Blank Stars

April 9, 2009 - North American Hockey League (NAHL) - Mahoning Valley Phantoms News Release

TRAVERSE CITY, MI (Thursday, April 9th, 2009) - Goaltender Garrett Bartus turned aside all 28 shots he faced as the Mahoning Valley Phantoms shut out the Traverse City North Stars 3-0 on Thursday to claim a 2-1 advantage in their best-of-five North Division Semifinals.

It is Bartus' second career playoff shutout, but the third-year veteran downplayed the accomplishment after the game.

"Now that the game is over, the shutout doesn't mean too much," says Bartus, who improved to 7-4-1 lifetime in the playoffs. "We need to focus right away on tomorrow night [and Game Four]."

The Phantoms opened the scoring halfway through the first period when Nick Shkreli deked his way through the North Star defense on the power play, pulled the puck across the goal mouth and slid a backhand under Traverse City netminder C.J. Motte for a 1-0 Mahoning Valley lead with 9:17 remaining in the opening frame.

Johnny Meo extended the Mahoning Valley lead four minutes later when he took a long clearout pass from Cullen Lundholm in on a breakaway, beating Motte high to the stick side for a 2-0 Phantoms edge with 5:27 left in the first.

The teams remained deadlocked for the next fifteen minutes before Erik Higby poked a Cole Schneider rebound past Motte with 5:30 remaining in the second stanza.

The two sides would deadlock the rest of the way, as Bartus made huge saves in transition on North Star forwards Kyle Jean and Garrett Thompson while Bartus' defensemen cleared out rebound after rebound in front of him over the remaining 25 minutes.

"We came out with a great defensive gameplan," said Phantoms Head Coach and General Manager Bob Mainhardt, "and I couldn't be happier with the way our guys played at both ends here [Thursday]."

It was Bartus' first start of the 2009 postseason, posting him to a 1-0 record in this year's playoffs.

The shutout is only the second such feat for the Phantoms in '08-'09, following Jordan Tibbett's 3-0 whitewash of Team USA on November 21st at the Chevrolet Centre.

Bartus' other playoff goose egg came in the second round of the 2008 postseason when he blanked the St. Louis Bandits, also 3-0, at the Ice Zone.

On the other end, Motte made 27 saves on 30 Phantom attempts but fell to 1-2 in the postseason.

The two teams get right back at it Friday night for Game Four of the best-of-five series at 7:05 PM at Centre ICE Arena in Traverse City.

The game will be broadcast locally on ESPN Radio 1240, WBBW-AM, and worldwide at via B2 Networks. The pregame show will begin at 6:50 PM.

If necessary, Game Five will be at the Ice Zone in Boardman on Sunday at 7:00 PM. All tickets will be on sale for $5.00 for the decisive contest.

All Phantoms merchandise is on sale for 40% off at the Phantoms Team Shop at both the Chevrolet Centre and the Ice Zone while the Phantoms are in the playoffs. Call (330) 965-7500 for more information.

The Mahoning Valley Phantoms are owned by the B.J. Alan Company - Phantom Fireworks, located in Youngstown, Ohio.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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