The Youngstown Phantoms haven’t enjoyed a whole lot of success this season … except when they’re playing the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Youngstown scored four unanswered goals in the second period and set a season high in goals scored while rallying for a 6-3 victory on Friday night at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio. The Phantoms snapped a 10-game winless streak to improve their USHL-worst record to 7-21-5 — and four of those wins have come in five outings against the Saints (14-17-2).
The teams meet again at 6:05 tonight.
Dubuque started strong.
Connor Kurth scored his 12th goal of the season to give the Saints a 1-0 lead at the 9:00 mark of the first period. Kurth collected a loose puck in the Youngstown zone, took off up ice, lost it on a poke check but quickly recovered before firing a shot between the leg pads of goaltender Colin Purcell.
Just 1:48 later, Daniyal Dzhaniyev doubled the lead with his 12th of the season, following more than 30 seconds of pressure in the Youngstown zone. John Evans won a battle along the boards to Dzhaniyev, who fed Andrei Buyalsky in the right faceoff circle. Buyalsky returned the puck to Dzhaniyev for a backdoor tap-in.
The Phantoms, who last won on Jan. 30, finally solved goaltender Lukas Parik with 1:12 remaining in the period. Jaden Grant converted a short-handed 2-on-1 with Georgii Merkulov by hitting a wide-open net for his sixth of the season.
Yusako Ando tied the game 5:44 into the middle period with his fifth of the season. After a defensive breakdown in the Dubuque zone, Reilly Funk’s shot caught Parik in the mask, and Ando scored on the rebound.
The Phantoms grabbed the lead 63 seconds later, when Dylan Gratton’s long outlet pass found Sergei Kuznetsov behind the Saints defense. Kuznetsov beat Parik with a backhander under the crossbar for his second of the season.
Youngstown pushed the lead to 4-2 at the 9:22 mark, when Funk scored on a backdoor rebound set up by Cole Burtch and Gratton for his seventh of the season. That chased Parik in favor of Hobie Hedquist.
Jack Malone scored a power play goal on a wraparound 3:58 later to extend the lead to 5-2. Merkulov and Austen May assisted on Malone’s fifth of the year, which came on the Phantoms’ first power play of the night.
The Phantoms reached a season-high for goals scored 5:07 into the third period. Merkulov scored his 11th of the season on a backdoor rebound set up by Mike Brown and Jack Silich.
Riley Stuart stopped Youngstown’s six-goal run with his fourth goal of the season at 9:45. Kenny Connors won a battle in the corner and fed Stuart for a one-timer from his knees in the right faceoff circle.
Dubuque finished with a 25-24 advantage in shots on goal but went 0-for-7 with the power play. Youngstown scored one man-advantage goal in three opportunities.