Phantoms fall to Tri-City in early OT goal

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown Phantoms lost, 2-1, just 18 seconds into overtime to the Tri-City Storm off a goal by Tri-City center Sam Hentges.

The Phantoms finish 0-1-1-0 on the two-game series after Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Storm. This loss puts the Phantoms to 14-13-4-1 on the season after they suffered their third loss in a row.

Losing in overtime still gains them a point in the standings, however, moving them to fifth in the United States Hockey League Eastern Conference. Despite the recent struggles, Phantoms coach Brad Patterson sees bright spots in this team and expects the goals to come shortly.

“You play like they did tonight, and I’m not concerned about it. It’s gonna come, you don’t go three or four games and only get a goal in each game.” Patterson said. “It’s tough while we’re in it, but with the resiliency and the heart of those guys night after night, it’s going to turn around quick.”

The lone goal for the Phantoms was scored on the power play in the first period by captain and University of New Hampshire commit Eric Esposito, with assists from Yale commit and regarded 2018 NHL Draft prospect Curtis Hall. Esposito netted his eighth goal on the season with that strike. Tying the game midway through the second period for the Storm was Hentges on a one-timer, also on the power play.

The Phantoms’ defense put up a solid effort in the loss. Phantoms goalie and Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Wouter Peeters made 25 saves on the night, and defenseman Julian Kislin made a couple key plays to keep the puck out of the net and send the game into overtime.

Next weekend the Phantoms have a three-game set with a back-to-back-to-back. Friday night in Muskegon they face off against the Lumberjacks, and they return home to face the Dubuque Fighting Saints in a two-game series on Saturday and Sunday.