GENEVA, Ill., - Despite a strong effort which included a 38-16 edge in shots on goal, a late comeback attempt from the Steel fell just short on Friday night at Fox Valley Ice Arena as Chicago fell 4-2 to the Youngstown Phantoms. Chicago trailed 3-0 entering the third period and cut the deficit to 3-2 early in the frame but couldn’t find the equalizer late.
It was Youngstown who struck first at Fox Valley Ice Arena, as Aiden Gallacher beat Victor Ostman from the right circle to put the visitors ahead 1-0 in the opening frame.
The Steel had their best chance in the first when the line of Sean Farrell, Brendan Brisson and Matty De St. Phalle controlled the puck in the offensive zone with four minutes remaining in the frame, generating multiple scoring chances. Youngstown netminder Dominic Basse, the Chicago Blackhawks’ sixth-round selection (167th overall) in the 2019 NHL Draft, snuffed out the chances for the Steel and kept the home team off the scoreboard for the time being, but the dominating shift was a sign of things to come.
The ice continued to tilt in favor of Youngstown in the middle frame as the Phantoms extended their lead to 2-0 shortly into the period. Chicago was called for covering the puck in the crease which resulted in a Youngstown penalty shot. The Phantoms tabbed forward John Beaton and he came through for the visitors, beating Chicago netminder Victor Ostman for his second marker of the season.
Youngstown’s leading scorer, Trevor Kuntar popped the back of the net on a breakaway at the 18:00 mark of the second, giving him nine goals on the year and a share of first place in the USHL.
The middle frame appeared to close with John Spetz narrowly missing a buzzer-beater for the Steel when he cleaned up a rebound in front of the net but the officials correctly waved off the tally, keeping Youngstown ahead 3-0 heading into the final frame.
A replay review would swing in Chicago’s favor just 31 seconds into the third. Sean Farrell blitzed his way to the net and with a Phantom defender on his back, got a shot off, picked up his own rebound and beat Youngstown goaltender Dominic Basse as he was pushed into the net, knocking it off its moorings. After a review, a goal was signaled to get the home team started.
Less than a minute after Farrell ignited the offense, his line came up big again. Matty De St. Phalle tickled the twine off a tic-tac-toe passing play between himself, Farrell and Brendan Brisson.
The Steel were down 3-2 with over 18 minutes to play, shades of their last game against the Fargo Force when the club scored three quick, third period goals to take the lead and finish the game. On this night, however, it was a different outcome.
Youngstown held tight defensively until the very end, even when Ostman went to the Chicago bench for an extra attacker. Phantom defender Aiden Gallacher notched his second goal of the night from his own defensive zone, finding the empty crease with 37 seconds on the clock to finish the job for the Eastern Conference rival.
Defenseman and alternate captain Jimmy Dowd Jr. acknowledged Youngstown’s heavy play and fast opening frame.
“They’re a really physical team; they’re always finishing their hits. They did a really good job of getting pucks in deep and just pounding us. They just came really hard from the start,” said Dowd Jr.
Even though the team fell, head coach Greg Moore saw the positives in the early-season matchup.
“I thought as the game went on, we got better. I actually was pretty happy with how the team played, we created a lot of chances, their goaltender played really well. We couldn’t crack them today, but it’s just one of those that didn’t bounce our way but I thought we had a lot of really good habits.”
Saturday night, the Steel welcome the Waterloo Black Hawks to Fox Valley Ice Arena for The Simpsons on Ice presented by The Entrepreneur’s Source. The game will feature the first of five postgame Skate with the Steel experiences and it is the first of six Topgolf Family Pack Games.
Sat., Nov. 2 vs. Waterloo Black Hawks 7:05 pm (The Simpsons on Ice presented by The Entrepreneur’s Source and Post-Game Skate with the Steel)
Fri., Nov. 8 at Madison Capitols 7:05 pm
Sat., Nov. 9 vs. Madison Capitols 7:05 pm (80s Night)
For more information and to purchase Steel tickets, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.