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Game 1 winner

Phantoms take series opener

YOUNGSTOWN — Starting the playoffs off on the right foot, the Youngstown Phantoms halted the surging Dubuque Fighting Saints, giving them their first loss of the playoffs, 3-1.

“That’s what you want at the end of the day,” said Phantoms coach Brad Patterson after this USHL Clark Cup Eastern Conference semifinal. “I thought the guys stuck with it, and that’s the key to playoffs. I like the way the guys showed up today and I liked the intensity early and that’s got to continue (tonight).”

The Phantoms were littering the net with 16 shots in the first period, with five coming on the first goal-scoring possession for the Phantoms. The fifth shot was capped off by forward Chase Gresock driving the puck into the net to quickly take a 1-0 lead.

“I know the guys were ready all week,” Patterson said. “I felt like there was more intensity at our practices than there has been all year. I know the guys were ready for an opponent. It didn’t matter who it would be, and sometimes when you have a few days off you worry about the start of the game. I knew in practice on Wednesday and Thursday they were ready to go.”

The Phantoms scoring chances largely came from the crease. The first two goals, scored by Gresock and Joey Abate, were each shoved in the net during a scuffle in front.

“That’s playoff hockey,” Patterson said. “You don’t score many beautiful goals in the playoffs because you’re playing against elite teams like Dubuque. They’re gonna shut you down in different areas. It’s all about being in that 10-by-10 area around the net and defending errors.”

The third and final goal for the Phantoms was quickly potted early in the second. While originally credited to defenseman Steve Holtz, it was quickly changed to Matthew Barry. Barry led the team in points during the regular season and has the lead in playoff point totals as well, gathering two points on the night. Assisting Gresock on the first goal.

Ivan Prosvetov is showing his worth for interested NHL teams, by backstopping the Phantoms, saving 33 pucks on 34 shots. The young Russian netminder has been projected as a seventh-round pick in June’s draft.

The lone goal given up by Prosvetov was to Dubuque forward and Ohio State commit Preston Quinn. He now has five points in three playoff games, tied for the league lead.

The Phantoms look to take a 2-0 series lead tonight at 7:05 p.m., before heading off to Dubuque for a potentially decisive Game 3. A win in Game 3 would send the Phantoms to the Eastern Conference Finals where they would square off with the winner of the Chicago Steel and US National Team Development Program series.

sports@tribtoday.com

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