Phantoms drop playoff opener

Game two is set for Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Chicago

GENEVA, Ill. (WYTV) – The Chicago Steel scored the first three goals of the game and never looked back as they downed the Youngstown Phantoms 4-1 Friday night at the Fox Valley Ice Arena.

Chicago leads the best-of-five Eastern Conference Semifinals one game to none.

“It took us a while to get going,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “It was definitely better as the game went.”

Baker Shore opened the scoring at 14:19 of the first, beating Phantoms net-minder Ivan Kulbakov (33 saves) over the glove to the short side to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.

The Steel doubled their lead at 16:50 of the second period when Mitch Lewandowski’s shot hit a leg and bounced through Kulbakov’s five-hole to push Chicago’s lead to 2-0.

Reggie Lutz beat Kulbakov with a wrist shot from the left circle at 12:20 of the third period to give the Steel a 3-0 advantage. Youngstown broke up Ales Stezka’s (25 saves) shutout bid at 16:49 of the third.

Jake Gingell threw a puck up ice, trying to allow Max Ellis to catch up to it for a break away. Stezka came out of his net to try to poke the puck away from Ellis near the top of the circles, but Ellis was able to chip the puck past Stezka and tap it into the empty cage for his first career Clark Cup Playoff goal.

Youngstown pulled Kulbakov for the extra attacker at 16:58, but Chicago captain Marc Johnstone scored on the empty net at 18:32 to put the game away for the Steel.

“We knew going in that it was going to be a long series, it was going to be a tough series and nothing was going to be easy,” Patterson said. “Tomorrow we’re going to have to show up and be better.”

Youngstown and Chicago will face off Saturday night for Game Two of this Eastern Conference Semifinal with puck drop scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.