YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO — Chicago’s comeback attempt fell short Sunday as the Youngstown Phantoms (7-4-0-0, 14 pts.) handed the Steel (10-1-0-0, 20 pts.) their first loss of the 2016-2017 season, 3-2 at Covelli Centre. Chicago’s streak of 10 wins to start the season tied the USHL Tier 1 all-time record (Lincoln, 2012-2013) and Sunday’s loss ended a streak of 15 consecutive wins by the Steel dating back to the end of the 2015-2016 season.
Chicago outshot Youngstown 14-8 in the opening period, but neither team was able to light the lamp.
In the second period, Youngstown blueliner Alec Mahalak opened up the scoring when he sent a shot from the slot past Chicago netminder Ales Stezka for a power play goal at 3:25. Chicago would get a two-man advantage midway through the frame but failed to convert. Later in the period, Phantoms forward Griffin Loughran raced down the ice on a 2-on-0 rush and beat Stezka on the glove side at 12:03. It was the first time this season the Steel surrendered two goals in the second period, and the goals were the first USHL career tallies for both Mahalak and Loughran.
Youngstown center Curtis Hall became the first player to score a goal on a Steel netminder during third period play this season. Hall sent a shot past Stezka’s stick side at 12:57, increasing the home team’s lead to 3-0. The Steel responded just over a minute later, as Walker Duehr recorded a goal for a fourth consecutive game, sending a shot past Phantoms backstopper Ivan Kulbakov for a power play goal from the right circle at 14:20.
With time running out, the Steel pulled Stezka in favor of an extra attacker. Jake Jaremko deflected a centering feed into the back of the net with just 22.8 seconds remaining, cutting the deficit to one. Stezka remained on the bench, but Chicago was unable to register another empty-net goal, falling 3-2.
The Steel have yet to be outshot this season, including a 28-20 margin over Youngstown Sunday. Chicago went 1-for-9 on the power play, while Youngstown was 1-for-3. Kulbakov made 26 saves in the win, including four on Steel right wing Johnny Walker, who was held without a goal for the first time in eight games.
Chicago returns home on Friday, Nov. 4 to face the Des Moines Buccaneers. Faceoff at Fox Valley Ice Arena is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. For tickets or more information, call 855-51-STEEL, stop by the Box Office at Fox Valley Ice Arena or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.