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Phantoms Bow out of 2024 Clark Cup Playoffs with 2-0 Loss to Dubuque

April 25, 2024 - United States Hockey League (USHL)
Youngstown Phantoms News Release

Youngstown Phantoms on game night
Youngstown Phantoms on game night
(Youngstown Phantoms, Credit: Anthony Moreton/Anthony Moreton Photography)

Youngstown, OH - The Youngstown Phantoms fell 2-0 in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Dubuque Fighting Saints, ending their attempt to become the first team in 30 years to defend a Clark Cup title. Phantoms Head Coach Ryan Ward credited Dubuque's play in the series and was very proud of his team's effort night in and night out this season.

"Credit to Dubuque, they played a great series," Ward said. "I loved how hard our guys worked. For a team that won a championship last year, to have the year we had and with the success we had in seeing guys grow and develop, I thought it was a great season in that regard."

The Fighting Saints controlled most of the first period, owning a 9-5-shot advantage. Phantoms goalie Aiden Wright made several gritty saves in the period to erase any possibility of a Dubuque goal and the Phantoms recorded one penalty kill in the period that ended with a 0-0 tie. The next 20 minutes of hockey at the Covelli Centre remained scoreless thanks to great netminding from both teams. Dubuque continued to fire shots in Wright's direction, extending their shots on goal advantage to 18-9 after two periods. Wright made an excellent save on Juraj Pekarcik early in the frame, when Pekarcik had a one-on-one situation where Pekarcik ripped a shot from the edge of the crease, but Wright made an exceptional save to keep the game scoreless. Kevin Reidler responded right back with an unreal save of his own moments later when Charlie Cerrato forced a turnover in the Dubuque zone and fed Nathan Lewis on the backdoor with his sights on twine, however, Reidler stretched across the crease and plucked Lewis's shot away.

Just under five minutes into the third period, Beckett Hendrickson connected on the eventual game-winning goal, flipping a backhander past Wright off a rebound. Lucas St. Louis added an insurance goal at 11:04 after he sent a snipe to the top corner to extend the Saints' lead to 2-0. The Phantoms narrowed the shot disparity to 22-18 in an effort to cut into the deficit, even with pulling Wright in favor of an extra attacker with a little over two minutes to go, but Reidler's impression of a brick wall in the net ultimately ended the Phantoms' season.

Wright's performance was outstanding despite the loss. The future Catamount stopped 20 of 22 shots on the night. Reidler posted his second shutout of the series, denying all 18 Phantom shots sent his way, only allowing three goals in the four-game series.

The future is bright for the Phantoms, as they will return 17 players from this year's roster for next season.

By the Numbers

Shots - 17

Saves - 20

Power Play - 0/1

Penalty Kill - 1/1

Images from this story

Youngstown Phantoms on game night
Youngstown Phantoms on game night

(Anthony Moreton/Anthony Moreton Photography)

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United States Hockey League Stories from April 25, 2024

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