Phantoms’ new goalie isn’t looking back at Cedar Rapids
By Dan Hiner
Goalie Christian Stoever needed a change of scenery. He got it when he was traded to the Youngstown Phantoms last Wednesday from the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
The new goalie was a welcome addition and helped the Phantoms to Monday’s 3-2 win over the Central Illinois Flying Aces in a School Day Game at the Covelli Centre.
Stoever, playing in his third game in four days, made 24 saves in the Phantoms fourth win in their last six games.
With the game tied at 2, Matthew DeMelis scored off an assist from Dalton Messina with 4:36 left in the third period to put the Phantoms ahead. DeMelis’ shot went above Flying Aces’ goalie Mitchell Gibson glove.
“I thought today there was some much special teams — power play and penalty kill — it was really tough to have any flow in the game,” Phantoms head coach Brad Patterson said. “Our PK did a great job limiting opportunities. We had some big-time blocks and Christian played great in the net.
“At the end of that kill we had a fresh four that hadn’t been on the ice for a little bit. And we were able to capitalize on the [transition] and timely scoring is going to do a lot for us.”
The Flying Aces (7-5-1-0, 15 points) began the scoring when Tate Singleton got one past Stoever less than two minutes into the game. The Phantoms goalie stopped a shot, but it rebounded to Singleton. A defender got their stick on the shot but it redirected the puck past Stoever.
Jack Malone and Connor MacEachern scored within 16 seconds of each other, giving the Phantoms (4-6-0-2, 10 points) the lead on nearly identical shots. The two scored when they took the puck on the left side of the net and scored as they rounded the frame.
Jeremy Davidson tied the game with 11:36 remaining off assists by Sebastian Dirven and Cal Kiefiuk.
There were some defensive lapses throughout the game. Since the Phantoms have played three games in four days, the players haven’t gotten a chance to build chemistry in practice.
Stoever improves to 2-1-0-1 with the win and has been an upgrade in the net.
The Phantoms were allowing 3.5 goals per game prior to the trade on Halloween. In three games in Youngstown, the Northville, Mich, native has allowed five goals. He relieved Jon Mor in Friday’s game then played all of the games on Saturday and Monday.
“I think [Stoever’s] been very calm and collective,” Patterson said. “Even when we’ve given up some odd-man breaks, he’s made some very timely saves. He’s made the saves that are routine and easy, but the ones you need that swing the momentum in a game.”
Stoever said the environment changed in Cedar Rapids, and he knew he wanted to play elsewhere. He said the time spent early with the RoughRiders wasn’t as “fun as it was last year.
“The trade from Cedar Rapids was definitely much needed,” Stoever said. “I definitely needed the new atmosphere here in Youngstown. It’s much more suited for me and my playing style.”
The Phantoms aren’t new to midseason trades. Youngstown acquired three new players at the trade deadline last year then advanced to the Clark Cup Finals.
The Phantoms were quick to accept him as one of their own as soon as he arrived in Youngstown.
“Honestly, I’ve been very comfortable here,” Stoever said. “It feels like I’ve been here since the start of the year. The guys are great. They helped me transition and get a good start in goal.”