Phantoms late push not enough to get past Cedar Rapids

RoughRiders players celebrate after scoring an empty net goal Friday which pushed Cedar Rapids to the win over the Phantoms.

YOUNGSTOWN, OH (WKBN)-Two power play goals by the visitors proved the difference as the Youngstown Phantoms (12-6-3-1, 28 points) fell to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 3-1 on Friday night at the Covelli Centre in their final game before the Christmas break.

“I was hoping we’d correct the way we started last night,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “But I thought we were bland.”

Cedar Rapids opened the scoring at 10:46 of the first period with a 4-on-3 power play goal. Marek Valek fired a wrister from the right circle past the blocker of Wouter Peeters (14 saves) to put the RoughRiders in front 1-0. “I thought that first one was a great shot by them,” said Patterson. “We probably screened our goalie trying to be in the shot lane on that one.”

The RoughRiders doubled their lead with another power play goal with 0.1 seconds remaining on the second period clock. Eric Esposito was called for roughing with 5.5 second remaining in the period, putting the Phantoms down a man. Cedar Rapids won the ensuing faceoff and sent the puck to Ikya Sushko at the point. Sushko fired a slap shot that was stopped by Peeters, but Marc McLaughlin was right on the doorstop to deposit the rebound for his fourth goal of the year, giving the RoughRiders a 2-0 lead at the second intermission. “We weren’t in the correct formation for taking a draw on the second one,” said Patterson. “You can lose draws, but you have to be able to react to it and we weren’t ready for that.”

Youngstown cut the lead in half at 5:37 of the third period. Chase Gresock got in the way of a Cedar Rapids clearing attempt and kicked the puck over to Michael Regush. Regush fired a backhander from the left dot that beat Blake Pietila (15 saves) to put the Phantoms on the board. Regush’s fourth goal of the season made it 2-1 Cedar Rapids.

The RoughRiders were called for interference with 1:45 left in regulation, giving the Phantoms an opportunity to pull Peeters for the extra attacker and a 6-on-4 power play. Youngstown kept pressure in the zone for the first minute of the man advantage, but Jason Polin chased down a loose puck at center and scored a shorthanded goal on the empty net at 19:27 to make up the final margin.

Youngstown won’t return to the ice until December 28 and 29 as they conclude their four-game homestand with a pair of contests against the Madison Capitols. Puck drop on the 28th is scheduled for 7:05pm Eastern and broadcasts will be available on YPHR and HockeyTV.



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