Murray’s hat trick powers Phantoms

Youngstown has won

six of its last seven

By Dan Hiner


It’s just been that kind of year for Youngstown Phantoms forward Brett Murray.

When he shoots, there’s a good chance he will score.

Murray recorded his first USHL hat trick in the Phantoms’ 8-3 win over Team USA 17-Us Friday night at Covelli Centre.

The teams combined to score five times in the second period in a six-minute span. Murray scored twice to end the period and gave Phantoms the lead for good.

Murray tied the game at 3 with a shot off Team USA defenseman Daniel Laatsch’s skate and followed a couple minutes later with a rebound to put Youngstown up 4-3.

“Any time you score, it feels good,” Murray said.

The Phantoms (22-16-1-3) won three straight and six of their last seven games.

Craig Needham, Josh DeLuca, Connor MacEachern, Trevor Kuntar and Liam Dennison also scored for the Phantoms.

Joey Abate recorded three assists and Jack Malone had two. Matt DeMelis, Mattew Barnaby Jr., Liam Robertson, Arsenii Smekhnov and Jayson Dobay each had an assist.

Eamon Powell had a goal and an assist for Team USA (16-14-2-3). Hunter McKown and Thomas Bordeleau also scored. Zakary Karpa had two assists while Jacob Truscott and Brett Berard had one.

Kuntar opened the scoring with 15:03 left in the first, but Powell tied it less than five minutes later. The score was tied at 1 at the end of the first period.

It was the first meeting with the 17Us this season. Phantoms head coach Brad Patterson said the two teams were in a “feeling out” process in the opening period, leading to a lack of scoring.

“It’s the middle of February and we haven’t played the 17s,” Patterson said. “We haven’t played this team yet, but that’s bound to happen. I thought as the game went it opened up, and it opened up both ways.

“I thought they generated [offense] and whether we got a big save, they missed or whatever the case may be. As it went, I felt we did a good job sustaining some pressure on a couple forechecks and some guys were fortunate at bringing some pucks to the net.”

MacEachern, DeLuca and Dennison scored in the third to put the game out or reach. Murray scored on a breakaway with 28.8 seconds left to cap the night.

Phantoms goalie Christian Stoever allowed three goals in the first 33 minutes, but shut down Team USA the rest of the game.

“When you play USA — it doesn’t matter what age group you’re playing against — you know they have the ability to put the puck in the back of the net,” Patterson said.

Stoever finished with 21 saves and Noah Grannan had 24 stops for Team USA.

With the hat trick, Murray inched closer to Phantoms’ single-season record of 37 goals set by Sam Anas in 2012-13. He also is on pace to break Kyle Connor’s 80 point mark from 2014-15.

Murray has 29 goals and 56 points. But he didn’t know how close he is to the records.

“There’s a lot of great players involved in this franchise,” Murray said. “It would be awesome, but I’m not going to look out for it. I’m just gonna play my game.”