A four-goal first period for the visiting Cedar Rapids RoughRiders was a hole that the Youngstown Phantoms (16-14-1-3, 36 points) couldn’t dig themselves out of as they found themselves on the short end of a 5-2 final Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.
“Right away tonight I didn’t think we had a lot of intensity, it’s unacceptable” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “You spot a team one or two (goals) and it’s going to be a tough game. You did what we did tonight, it makes for real tough sledding. There was a lot of that game that we need to address, and we need to address quick.”
Cedar Rapids jumped on the Phantoms early, scoring just 85 seconds into the game. Grant Silianoff’s wrist shot from the right circle was initially stopped by Chad Veltri (19 saves), but the shot leaked through Veltri’s pads and settled in the crease. Liam Walsh beat the Phantoms defense to the loose puck and poked it into the cage to put the RoughRiders ahead 1-0. Cedar Rapids got a pair of nearly identical power play goals from Jason Polin at 6:32 and Nathan Smith at 11:46 respectively to go up 3-0, and Ben Almquist’s wrap-around goal at 12:29 capped off the four-goal period for Cedar Rapids.
Youngstown struck twice on the power play in the second period to cut into the lead. Gianfranco Cassaro broke the ice for Youngstown, firing a one-time full slapshot from the right point past Blake Pietila (26 saves) for his seventh goal of the season, putting the Phantoms on the board at 10:27. Connor MacEachern drew Youngstown one closer at 16:00 when his wrist shot from the left circle found the top corner past Pietila’s glove. MacEachern’s 15th goal of the campaign cutting the Cedar Rapids lead to 4-2, but the RoughRiders tacked on an insurance goal off the stick of Mitchell Miller 4:59 into the third period to put the game away.
The game wrapped up the season series between Cedar Rapids and Youngstown with each team winning two games in regulation. The Phantoms and RoughRiders currently sit tied with 36 points apiece, but Youngstown’s edge in ROW (regulation + overtime wins) would give the Phantoms an advantage in tie-breaking procedures if the playoffs started today. Youngstown will now hit the road for a five-game road swing, starting with a battle against the Western Conference-leading Tri-City Storm next Friday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:05pm Eastern in Kearney on Friday night.
COURTESY: YOUNGSTOWN PHANTOMS