Steel Prevail with 4-2 Victory in Youngstown
YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO - The Chicago Steel (15-3-2-0; 32 pts.) kicked off their three game series against the Youngstown Phantoms (4-13-0-1; 9 pts.) with a 4-2 victory at Covelli Centre in Ohio on Friday night.
Steel defenseman Ryan Ufko scored two goals and charted an assist in the win. Forward Andon Cerbone, defenseman Jack Bar and netminder Simon Latkoczy made their Steel debuts on Friday night in a winning effort.
Latkoczy, a netminder from Trencin, Slovakia, made good on his first start between the Steel pipes. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound netminder made 24 saves including all nine shots faced in the final frame on Friday.
Matt Coronato was held off the scoresheet for the first time in nearly a calendar year as his USHL record point streak of 28 games came to an end. During the streak, from Feb. 14, 2020 until Friday night, the Harvard-bound forward tallied 54 points (24G, 30A).
Ufko kickstarted his big night with a marker early in the first period. Just over two minutes in, the defenseman picked up a giveaway from Youngstown in the neutral zone at full speed and motored past three Phantoms skaters on his way to a perfect forehand backhand move to beat Youngstown netminder Mattias Sholl.
Jaden Grant picked up his first goal of the season for Youngstown on a fortunate bounce in front of Latkoczy. The puck appeared to deflect off a Steel skate and sneak past the Slovakian netminder to even the score at 1-1, midway through the opening frame.
Ufko added to his goal total late in the first during 4-on-4 action. After a board battle win by Jack Babbage and Sean Farrell, Babbage found Ufko with a cross-ice feed. The perfect pass was hammered home from the left circle for Ufko's seventh marker of the season.
Less than a minute later, the Steel extended their lead with help from Ufko once again. This time, the blueliner lent a helping hand as he found Lukas Gustafsson on the left side of the offensive zone. Gustafsson saw Josh Doan cutting to the middle of the ice and fired a pass that connected, giving Doan enough time to collect it and let go a wrist shot that snuck past Sholl.
The marker extended the Steel edge to 3-1 heading into the first intermission, a period that saw the Steel go 0-for-4 on the power play but outshoot their opponents by an 11-4 margin.
Youngstown came out firing in the second period, flipping the shots on goal battle, but not before Chicago could add to its lead.
Just over two minutes into the middle frame, Adam Fantilli took a long lead pass from fellow rookie forward Jackson Blake after a critical blocked shot from defenseman Jack Bar. The pass sent Fantilli on a breakaway to beat Sholl with a low wrister for his fourth goal of the year.
Trailing by three goals, Youngstown's comeback attempt began with a power play goal from Grant Hindman. The defenseman was parked in front of the net on the man advantage to get his stick on a point shot from Georgii Merkulov, cutting the deficit to 4-2. With the assist, Merkulov has registered at least a point in all five games against the Steel this season.
The comeback attempt was snuffed out by excellent goaltending from Latkoczy as he settled into the Steel net through the final 28 minutes of action.
Latkoczy combined with Sholl to put on a goaltending showcase in the third period. Latkoczy stopped all nine Youngstown shots while Sholl kept his team alive with 10 of his 23 total saves coming in the final frame.
The Steel finished the night without a power play goal in five opportunities, just the fifth game of the season the club has not tallied a marker on the man advantage. Youngstown went 1-for-3 (33.3%) on the power play in the loss.
The Steel and Phantoms match up two more times this weekend, a 6:05 pm CT start on Saturday and a 3:05 pm CT puck drop on Sunday to close the weekend.
Chicago Steel games may be heard on Mixlr at http://mixlr.com/chicago-steel/ (AUDIO) and video may be streamed on available devices through HockeyTV at www.hockeytv.com (VIDEO).
Chicago Steel Upcoming Games presented by Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush:
Saturday, January 23 at Youngstown Phantoms (6:05 pm CT)
Sunday, January 24 at Youngstown Phantoms (3:05 pm CT)
Friday, January 29 at Muskegon Lumberjacks (6:00 pm CT)
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.
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