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 Youngstown Phantoms

Phantoms Clinch Home Ice with 5-3 Win Over Team USA

April 13, 2024 - United States Hockey League (USHL)
Youngstown Phantoms News Release

Youngstown Phantoms celebrate win
Youngstown Phantoms celebrate win
(Youngstown Phantoms, Credit: Scott Galvin/Scott Galvin Photography)

Youngstown, OH - The Youngstown Phantoms (32-19-6-4, 74pts) clinched home ice in the Clark Cup Playoffs after a 5-3 come-from-behind victory Friday night at the Covelli Centre. The Phantoms scored five unanswered goals over the final 26:44. Also on the night, the Phantoms clinched the best home record in the Eastern Conference for the second straight season. Phantoms Head Coach Ryan Ward credits the Youngstown faithful for their continued support of the team.

"I've said it for two years now, there is not a better place to play in the USHL," Ward said. "With our fans and how dedicated and passionate they are, it's a very special place. We take a ton of pride when we play here at Covelli."

The U17s came out hot in the opening frame in Youngstown. Jack Murtagh got USA on the board just 3:37 into the game, when he received a pass in the slot and sent a shot that Aiden Wright partially blocked, but could not stop. Boasting a 1-0 lead early, Team USA's Will Moore snapped a wrister past Wright to extend the visitors' lead to 2-0. In the fast-paced opening period, the Phantoms collected only four shots to the U17s 12.

Team USA continued to stun the Covelli Centre crowd as Andrew O'Neill struck early in the middle frame to give the U17s a 3-0 lead. At 6:44, Phantoms rookie Evan Jardine took it himself through the U17 zone and worked the puck through the five hole of Harrison Boettiger to help Youngstown chip away at the lead. After a U17 penalty gave Youngstown a power play, Charlie Cerrato added another goal for the Phantoms at 17:17 when he found the five hole off a one-timer from the right-wing circle. After finally waking up, the Phantoms only trailed 3-2 heading into the final frame.

The U17 lead was erased just 34 seconds into the third period after Ryan Botterill tapped the puck to Nathan Lewis off a faceoff, giving Lewis a wide-open left side of the cage where he cashed in for his 8th goal in just his 12th game. Jardine put Youngstown ahead 4-3 at 10:26, picking up his second goal of the night by ushering a puck in the blue paint across the goal line after a Lewis deflection. Team USA pulled Boettiger at 16:35 in favor of an extra attacker to try and knot the game up, however, Adam Pietila had other plans when he beat out an icing call, fought through a check at the side of the empty cage, and shoveled the puck across the goal line to give the Phantoms a 5-3 victory.

With Strathmann's two assists tonight, the captain became the fifth defenseman in the USHL Tier-1 era to reach the 100-point plateau. Strathmann also set a new career high for points in a season with 39.

"It feels really good," Strathmann said. "I can't thank everyone enough for helping me get to this point but I know our team has a lot more left in the tank, including myself."

Wright picked up his 13th win of the season on the night, stopping 23 of 26 shots en route to the home-ice clinching win. After starting the game strong, Boettiger denied 18 of 22 shots for the U17s.

By virtue of Green Bay's overtime loss to Madison and Muskegon's win over Chicago, the Phantoms are locked into the 4-seed in the Eastern Conference and will take on the Madison Capitols in the Opening Round of the 2024 Clark Cup Playoffs, starting the best-of-3 series on Monday at the Covelli Centre.

Youngstown wraps up the regular season tomorrow night in Plymouth, Michigan at USA Hockey Arena to take on the U17s once more. Puck drop is slated for 7:05.

By the Numbers

Shots - 23

Saves - 23

Power Play - 2/4

Penalty Kill - 4/4

Goals - Cerrato, Jardine (2), Lewis, Pietila

Assists - Botterill (2), de Haro, Lewis, Machu, Strathmann (2), Willson, Young

Box Score -

Images from this story

Youngstown Phantoms celebrate win
Youngstown Phantoms celebrate win

(Scott Galvin/Scott Galvin Photography)

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United States Hockey League Stories from April 13, 2024

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