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Holtz lifts Phantoms to overtime win

Sunday, January 6, 2019

MacEachern forced the bonus session

By Dan Hiner


It’s been a long two months for Steve Holtz. The Phantoms defenseman missed nearly two months with a torn groin. He only accounted for one assist in 11 games before Saturday.

In overtime against Sioux City, Holtz scored his first goal of the season for a 4-3 win over the Musketeers and two-game sweep at the Covelli Centre.

Brett Murray set up his goal with a shot blocked away by Sioux City goalkeeper Jake Sibell.

Holtz crashed the net, grabbed the rebound and gave the Phantoms their first three-game winning streak of the season.

“I have goose bumps now, I had goose bumps going into the 3-on-3 overtime there,” Holtz said. “I saw Murray’s going and I better crash the net, so I turned the jets on and drove hard to the net ... I can’t even describe how I feel right now.

“There’s lots of people here to watch. I can’t describe it. It was just a great opportunity for me and it feels good to be back.”

Injuries have impacted Holtz’s two-year stint with the Phantoms. In addition to the groin injury, he was also limited to 30 games last season due to a torn rotator cuff.

In 42 games with Youngstown, he’s only accounted for eight points (two goals and six assists).

“I don’t show up in the scoresheet too much, but I feel like I’m a good role player,” Holtz said. “Puck goes in our end, puck goes out ... make a good first pass and try to use my skating as much as I can.

“I feel my skating’s my best asset, so I try to bring that to the team. I try to contribute as much as I can.”

Holtz wouldn’t have had a game winner if it wasn’t for Connor MacEachern. The Phantoms were down 3-2 in the final minute of the third period.

Youngstown pulled goalie Chad Veltri with 1:30 left to play for an extra skater. After missing on three opportunities, MacEachern tied the game on a slapshot from the left circle with 15.2 seconds left.

“It’s not every day you get to score on your last opportunity with 15 seconds left,” Phantoms head coach Brad Patterson said. “But the guys were able to find a way to do it and that’s a big-time effort.”

The Musketeers’ defense cut down passing lanes and pressured the puck throughout the game. The few times the Phantoms found an open shot, they couldn’t convert.

MacEachern scored two goals and Nikolai Jenson the other. Jayson Dobay and Murray each had two assists while Jack Malone, Ben Schoen and MacEachern each had one.

Marcus Kallionkieli scored twice and had an assist for the Musketeers and Park Ford added a goal and an assist. Jordan Steinmetz had two assists and Luke Johnson had one.

Veltri made his first start as a Phantoms and finished with 24 saves. Sibell had 20 for the Musketeers.

The Phantoms were without defenseman Liam Dennison, who is out with the flu.

Holtz took some of Dennison’s minutes and took advantage of the extra ice time.

“We lose a lot [with Dennison out] and we insert Steve,” Patterson said. “We didn’t miss a beat.”