A rivalry is brewing. The Youngstown Phantoms came into their game with the Muskegon Lumberjacks with aspirations of moving a little closer to the visiting team in the standings. Heading into this game, Muskegon was fourth while the Phantoms were holding on to the sixth and final playoff spot. On YSU night, the Phantoms came up big with 34 seconds left to force overtime on a Ty Loney goal. Unfortunately, the Phantoms lost the shootout 3-2 giving Muskegon the extra point.
In front of one of the biggest crowds the Phantoms have welcomed in all year (2,200), both teams deserve credit for playing a very crowd-pleasing physical style of hockey. These guys were hitting, like rivals. Both teams jumped on their respective busses after a shower and headed North to Muskegon for the second leg of the home-and-home series.
Coach Carr talked about the effort that his Phantoms put forth. “I feel we outplayed them. We had more opportunities and I am disappointed about not getting two points tonight, but I can live with getting one. That’s like eight of our last nine games that we have recorded a point. I’m not upset and thought we did a lot of things well tonight. It was the first time we pulled our goaltender and successfully converted for a goal.”
In the first period, the Phantoms managed to take a 1-0 lead to the game just seconds after an apparent goal was disallowed. The referee claimed that the net had come off just before the puck crossed the plane. No goal, no problem. Just seconds later, Adam Berkle connected on a power play chance for his eleventh goal of the season. Ty Loney and Cody Strang picked up assists on the first score in the contest.
The Lumberjacks tied the game when Matt Berry hit the twine for the 16th time this season. Berry tied the game from close range and John Parker and Mark Yanis were credited with assists. After two periods the Phantoms held a 25-18 edge in shots on goal. The 18 shots that Greg Lewis stopped were not easy. Lewis is looking good between the pipes these days.
In the third, Muskegon took a 2-1 advantage on a nice play. Isaac Kohls was the recipient of a nice pass from Travis Belohrad allowing Kohls to shoot over Phantoms goaltender Lewis’ right shoulder. Belohrad set Kohls up from behind the net floating a soft pass just right of the crease. Travis Walsh was also credited with an assist for the Lumberjacks.
The Phantoms sent the crowd into a tizzy when Andrew Sinelli connected shorthanded. Mike Ambrosia picked up an assist on the goal and the rejuvenated Phantoms knotted the contest at two goals apiece with 10:40 left in the game.
With 7:02 left in the game, Muskegon went ahead again. Mike Conderman tallied for the ninth time on the season. Alexx Privitera, who always manages to get a point or two against Youngstown, gathered an assist on the even-strength chance.
With just 34 seconds left in the game, Loney picked up a rebound right in front of the net and beat Joel Vienneau on a put back. Jiri Sekac picked up an assist on Loney’s team-leading 13th goal of the season that would force overtime. No one was able to score a goal in the extra session setting up a shootout.
Muskegon got the first shot with Chris Lochner. Lochner got stuffed by Lewis straight on. The Phantoms responded with Stuart Higgins. Higgins was stuffed. Travis Belohrad was next for the Lumberjacks and he converted to beat Lewis. Next up for Youngstown was Adam Berkle. Berkle went top shelf to beat Vienneau and tie the shootout at one apiece. The third shooter for Muskegon was Matt Berry. Berry also went high to score. Jiri Sekac, the third Phantom, was stoned. The fourth Lumberjack was Mike Conerman who scored to put Muskegon up 3-1. Loney, the hero who forced overtime, kept Youngstown alive when he converted. Muskegon’s final shooter was Isaac Kohls who mishandled the puck from the get-go and failed to ice the win. The Phantoms last hope was Scott Mayfield who could not convert giving Muskegon the extra point.
Ty Loney talked about connecting to tie the game with under a minute left. “Jiri [Sekac] just threw it toward the net and I was able to dig it out and put it between his legs. The shootout was a little bit nerve racking. Some of the shot is premeditated and some of it is what the goaltender is going to give you. My shot was a combination of both and went in.”
This game was only the third time the Phantoms were involved in a shootout all season. Muskegon has vast experience in the tie department with twelve, giving them a definite advantage.
“This one wouldn’t have hurt as bad if we could have won a few games earlier in the season when we had leads and lost”, remarked Carr.