USHL: Youngstown breaks out of funk, beats Preventing Saints | Native Sports activities


The Youngstown Phantoms haven’t had much success this season … except when they play the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

Youngstown scored four unanswered goals in the second half and had a high-goal season when he scored a 6-3 win on Friday night at the Covelli Center in Youngstown, Ohio. The Phantoms have put in a 10-game winning streak to improve their worst USHL record to 7-21-5 – and four of those wins came in five games against the Saints (14-17-2).

The teams will meet again this evening at 6:05 a.m.

Connor Kurth scored his 12th goal of the season and gave the Saints a 1-0 lead at 9:00 in the first half. Kurth picked up a loose puck in the Youngstown zone, picked up ice, lost it on a poke check but quickly recovered before shooting a shot between goalkeeper Colin Purcell’s leg pads.

Just 1:48 later, Daniyal Dzhaniyev doubled his lead with his 12th goal of the season after exerting more than 30 seconds of pressure in the Youngstown zone. John Evans won a fight along the boards against Dzhaniyev, who fed Andrei Buyalsky in the right face-off circle. Buyalsky returned the puck to Dzhaniyev for a backdoor tap-in.

The Phantoms, who last won on January 30th, finally overtook goalkeeper Lukas Parik with 1:12 in the remaining time. Jaden Grant turned Georgii Merkulov into a 2v1 shorthanded by hitting a wide open net for the sixth time this season.

Yusako Ando linked the game with his fifth goal of the season with 5:44 in the middle. After a defensive failure in the Dubuque zone, Reilly Funk hit Parik in the mask, and Ando scored on the rebound.

The Phantoms took the lead 63 seconds later when Dylan Gratton’s long outlet pass found Sergei Kuznetsov behind the Saints’ defense. Kuznetsov defeated Parik for the second time of the season with a backhand hit under the crossbar.

Youngstown increased the lead to 4-2 at 9:22 when Funk scored a goal in a backdoor rebound set by Cole Burtch and Gratton for the seventh time this season. That chased Parik in favor of Hobie Hedquist.

Jack Malone scored a power play goal 3:58 later to extend the lead to 5-2. Merkulov and Austen May assisted Malone’s fifth year in the Phantoms of the Night’s first power game.

The Phantoms hit a season high for goals scored in the third period with 5:07. Merkulov scored his 11th goal of the season on a backdoor rebound set up by Mike Brown and Jack Silich.

Riley Stuart stopped Youngstown’s run by six goals with his fourth goal of the season at 9:45 a.m. Kenny Connors won a battle in the corner and fed Stuart off his knees in the right faceoff circle for a one-timer.

Dubuque ended the game 25:24 on shots on goal but went 0-7 with the power play. Youngstown scored a goal with a man advantage on three occasions.