SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Youngstown Phantoms reached the quarter mark of their first USHL season Friday night, but they’d just as soon forget this particular milestone.
Sioux Falls goaltender Clay Witt earned his first shutout of the season, blanking the visiting Phantoms with a 30-save effort in the Stampede’s 3-0 win.
Youngstown (8-6-1, 17 points) was held off the scoreboard for the first time in 15 USHL games and fell for just the second time in regulation on the road.
Sioux Falls (10-1-4, 24 points) improved its record at Sioux Falls Arena to a league-best 8-1-3.
The Stampede’s seventh-ranked power play cashed in its second opportunity of the game at 14:02 of the first period to put the Phantoms in an early 1-0 hole. Chad Ruhwedel’s slapshot from the center point was stopped by goalie Matt Mahalak, but the rebound skipped directly to the stick of Matt Farris, who deposited his fourth of the season from the bottom of the left circle.
The tight dimensions of the Stampede’s rink tend to cause trouble for first-time visitors, and that appeared to be the case throughout the opening stanza with the home side outshooting Youngstown 13-4, although Farris’ goal was the only tangible damage.
Joe Zarbo’s older brother, Matt, tossed a left-side wrister past Mahalak at 4:44 of the second, finishing a 2-on-1 rush with Matt Lindblad, who got the primary assist on the scoring play.
Despite registering 10 shots to the Stampede’s nine in the middle frame, the Phantoms couldn’t solve Witt through 40 minutes of play.
Sam Coatta finished the scoring 4:49 into the final frame as the rebound of George Michalke’s drive caromed into the goal off his body. The Phantoms launched 16 shots in the third and also enjoyed a late 5-on-3 power play for 30 seconds, but Witt kept a bouncing puck from crossing the goal line in the final second, locking up his shutout, Sioux Falls’ second clean sheet of the campaign.
The Phantoms visit Sioux City (Iowa) tonight at 8.