Phantoms win third straight

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown Phantoms won their third straight Friday night with a 2-1 victory over the Waterloo Black Hawks at the Covelli Centre.

The win marks Youngstown’s seventh victory in the past eight games, soaring them up the USHL Eastern Conference standings, where they now sit second, behind the US National Development Team.

“I thought it was a gutsy effort,” Phantoms coach Brad Patterson said. “There’s a reason they’re (Waterloo) at the top of the standings. They’re a very good team, they’re very well coached. Have a terrific bunch of forwards, and defensemen, and their goaltending is great.

“We were treated to a good game tonight. I like the way our guys played and I expect the same (today).”

Opening the scoring for the Phantoms was Merrimack commit Chase Gresock. The goal was his 19th on the season, leading the Phantoms in goals. The goal was assisted by Michael Regush, giving him a point in his last nine games.

University of New Hampshire commit Eric Esposito scored with 11:17 left in the third period to extend the lead to 2-0, assisted by recent acquisition, Nicholas Cardelli.

“I’ve been playing with Cardelli lately, and he’s a good player,” Esposito said. “I think we work well together, we play a similar style, we’ve kind of been supporting each other, and we’ve found the back of the net the last two games, so I’m happy about that.”

With 10 seconds left in the final period, a shot by Bobby Trivigno was deflected by Florida Panthers prospect Ben Finkelstein, beating Phantoms goaltender Ivan Prosvetov, halting his chance at his first shutout of the season.

“I thought he was great,” Patterson said about Prosvetov. “It’s a shame that, that floater goes in, but they had good presence in front of the net. Like I said, you can’t limit a Waterloo and expect that one goal is going to win it.

“They’re a very good team and I thought the guys did a very good job and we’re going to need that (tonight) as well.”

The Phantoms (21-15-4-1) look to sweep Waterloo tonight in their continued push for another playoff berth. After Saturday’s game against the Black Hawks, the Phantoms have a two game home-stand against Omaha, before heading off to face the US National Development team in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to close out February.