Phantoms rally late to defeat USA’s 17s
By Tom Williams
Trevor Kuntar’s goal with 1.5 seconds remaining in regulation capped a memorable 300th victory for the Youngstown Phantoms.
“I realized there were only a couple of seconds left and I had the puck behind the net,” said Kuntar after the Phantoms’ 4-3 victory on Sunday over Team USA’s 17-younger squad at the Covelli Centre. “[Dalton] Messina picked a guy and I picked it up, and nobody was on me.”
Kuntar brought the puck to the front and stuffed it past goaltender Noah Grannan.
For the second time in three days, the Phantoms rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the 17s.
The victory ended a wild week that saw the Phantoms play four times in six days. They lost twice to Team USA’s 18s (Wednesday and Saturday).
“Very tired, I’m very excited to go to my bed tonight,” Kuntar said.
The win also was the 100th for Brad Patterson as Phantoms head coach, maybe.
“Really?” Patterson said after being told of his milestone.
Turns out it’s probably win 101 because he served as head coach for at least two wins when former head coaches Anthony Noreen and John Wroblewski served suspensions. And earlier this season, Patterson was suspended for a game the Phantoms won.
Whatever the number, Patterson agreed the win was memorable.
“We’ve had a long week, some extremely tough games — emotional games, physical games,” Patterson said. “Were we our best tonight? No. Did we find a way? Yes.
“I’m definitely proud of the guys.”
The win moves the Phantoms (33-20-1-4, 71 points) into a tie for third place with Cedar Rapids in the USHL’s Eastern Conference and three points ahead of Team USA. The Phantoms have four games remaining, Team USA and Cedar Rapids five.
Chad Veltri made 21 saves and Connor MacEachern scored the first goal on a power-play.
Midway through the second period, Grannan replaced Drew Commesso in the goal. Shortly thereafter, Brett Murray stole the puck at the Phantoms’ blue line and skated untouched for a breakaway goal to reduce Team USA’s lead to 3-2. It was his 39th to extend his record for goals in a season.
With 6:09 remaining, Matthew Barnaby tied the game when he deflected Aiden Gallacher’s shot past Grannan.
“Coach talked about getting to the dirty areas, that was the main focus in the third period, to get to the nitty-gritty areas in front of the net,” Barnaby said. “I just tipped it and it went over [Grannan’s] shoulder.
“Especially after what happened [Saturday] night, I can’t think of a better ending to cap off the week.”
Barnaby was referring to Saturday’s 8-1 loss to the Team USA 18s in Plymouth, Mich. That game ended with a brawl after time expired that led to six game misconduct penalties.
Three Phantoms (goaltender Christian Stoever and forwards Tristan Amonte and Josh DeLuca) were suspended for Sunday’s game.
The Phantoms were scheduled to play Team USA’s 18s. A little more than three hours before the opening faceoff, the Phantoms were informed that the USHL ordered the 17s to play instead of the 18s.