Seventeen Straight: Phantoms set new Tier-1 record

BENSENVILLE, IL (WKBN)-The Youngstown Phantoms (36-13-5) earned a 4-3 win over the Chicago Steel on Sunday afternoon. Forwards Tyler Sheehy, Kiefer Sherwood, Matt Alvaro, and Kyle Connor scored the goals for the Phantoms, who set a USHL Tier-1 era record (2002-Present) with their 17th consecutive win.

The Phantoms picked up right where they left off on Saturday night. Just 29 seconds into the opening frame, Connor came down the right wing on a 2-on-1 rush and sent a pass to Sheehy who tapped it past Steel goaltender Lassi Yrjola, putting the Phantoms up, 1-0.

After Chicago’s Fredrik Olofsson tied the game, 1-1, on the power play a few minutes later, the Phantoms regained the lead late in the frame, when forward Josh Melnick sent a pass to Sherwood who slammed it past Yrjola, giving the Phantoms a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

The Steel tied the game, 2-2, three and a half minutes into the second on a goal from John Schilling, but the Phantoms were not able to find the back of the net in the period, and the two sides headed to the locker room tied, 2-2.

After the Steel took the lead 2:16 into the third on a goal from Marcel Godbout, the Phantoms knotted the game back up, when Alvaro took possession of the puck in the high slot and cut in front of the net and sniped it past Yrjola while falling, tying the game, 3-3, 4:47 into the period.

“Coach was preaching taking it to the net, and off of our faceoff play I got it in the high slot and put my head down as I drove to the net, and luckily I was able to put it in,” said Alvaro. “We were going through some adversity at the time but we battled through it and never quit, and it just shows how special this group is.”

The Phantoms continued to apply the pressure, and with under five minutes left, Connor took a pass from Sheehy at the top of the right-wing circle and launched a shot through traffic that beat Yrjola, sealing the 4-3 win for the Phantoms.

“The credit goes to Sheehy who came down the wall and fed me a great pass, and I just made a couple of moves to get it on net and it went in,” said Connor. “It feels amazing to accomplish something like this. It’s been an entire team effort throughout this run, and we just have to try and keep it going here.”

The Phantoms become the first team in the USHL Tier-1 era to win 17 games in a row.

“It’s a great testament to our organization from ownership to the front office,” said Phantoms Head Coach Anthony Noreen. I give Jason Koehler, Brad Patterson, John Ronan, Adam Waddell, Jim Schroeder, our whole support staff and most of all, our players, a ton of credit, because with the parity and talent level of the players and coaches in this league it’s not easy to do. It’s something that will be a part of this group’s legacy moving forward wherever they go.”

The Phantoms outshot Chicago on the afternoon, 44-31, while the power play went scoreless on both opportunities.

“It was a gutsy effort by our guys tonight with it being our third game in a short amount of time against a very good and determined hockey team,” said Noreen. “Tyler, Kiefer, Matt, and Kyle scored some big goals, and then towards the end we were blocking shots and were tough in front of the net. We found a way to win which has been the story with this group.”

The Phantoms wrap up the Western Conference portion of their schedule with a pair of games in Omaha against the Lancers next weekend, beginning Friday at 8:35pm ET.


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