Big Second Period Lifts USA Past Phantoms 7-4
YOUNGSTOWN, OH - Three unanswered goals to start the second period broke a 3-3 tie and lifted Team USA past the Youngstown Phantoms (11-30-5-2, 29 points) 7-4 at the Covelli Centre Friday night.
"You can't trade chances with a team like this," said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. "(Team USA) is very opportunistic. When you give opportunities to skilled players they're going to make you pay."
Youngstown got on the board first just 1:16 into the game when Yusaku Ando poked a puck out of midair and behind Cameron Korpi (21 saves) for his eighth of the season and a 1-0 Youngstown lead. Just under a minute later USA tied the game with a goal from Frank Nazar III at 2:04 and grabbed the lead off a Cutter Gauthier tally at 3:10.
The Phantoms answered back with a power play goal just before the midway point of the period. Jack Malone attempted a cross-ice pass to Ando, but Malone's pass hit the stick of Cruz Lucius and redirected behind Korpi at 9:21, tying things at 2-2. Nazar III converted on a 2-on-1 with Jimmy Snuggerud at 11:36 to give USA back the lead, but a power play wrister from Cole Burtch at 14:30 knotted the game back up heading in to the first intermission. Coach Patterson picked out Burtch as one of the bright spots of this game. "Cole Burtch is a scoring threat," said Patterson. "Doesn't matter where you put him, if he can get it on and off his tape in a quick fashion he's got the ability to score. He places (his shots) very well."
The flood gates opened for Team USA in the second, scoring the first three goals of the period. Charlie Leddy marked his first USHL tally 2:06 into the frame, Lucius scored a power play goal on a redirect at 15:30 for the game-winning goal, and Daniel Sambuco his first in the USHL 16:38 into the period for some insurance. Burtch broke USA's scoring run with a power play goal at 18:48, putting home his own rebound, but Gauthier's sweeping wrister 2:41 into the third ended any hopes of a Phantoms comeback.
The win kept USA's playoffs hopes alive for one more day, as it allowed them to keep pace with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. After the Saints' 8-4 victory over Green Bay tonight, Team USA needs a Dubuque loss tomorrow and a win over the Phantoms in the season finale to claim the fourth and final spot in the Eastern Conference side of the Clark Cup Playoffs.
Youngstown and Team USA conclude the 2020-2021 regular season tomorrow at the Covelli Centre with a 7:05pm puck drop. It's Fan Appreciation Night at Covelli with prizes and giveaways all night long, a raffle for an autographed jersey signed by the entire team, and a postgame auction for the team's purple jerseys. Tickets are available from the Phantoms box office by calling 330-747-7825.
By the Numbers
Shots - 25
Saves - 33
Power Play - 3/5
Penalty Kill - 2/3
Goals - Ando, Burtch (2), Malone
Assists - Ando, Brown, Furey, Grant, Gratton, Isogai (2), Malone
Box Score - https://www.ushl.com/view/#/game-summary/9609
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