Phantoms clinch Eastern Conference with OT win over Chicago and advance to Clark Cup Finals
William Whitelaw nets overtime-winner as the Youngstown Phantoms advance to the Clark Cup Finals for just the second time in franchise history
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Clark Cup Finals are set as the Youngstown Phantoms punched their ticket Tuesday night with a 2-1 overtime win over the Chicago Steel.
William Whitelaw delivered the series-clinching goal 7:50 into the extra session, giving the Phantoms the Eastern Conference title and sending Youngstown to the Clark Cup Finals for just the second time in franchise history.
The @YtownPhantoms beat the Chicago Steel in OT and are headed to the Clark Cup Finals! 🚨— USHL (@USHL) May 10, 2023
We will get a rematch of the 2018 Clark Cup Finals in which Fargo defeated Youngstown 3-1. pic.twitter.com/63JAfeJirI
The Phantoms got off to another quick start in Game 4 as Youngstown fired 19 first-period shots at Chicago’s Christian Manz. However, Ryan Ward’s squad had nothing to show for it as the game remained scoreless.
Chicago — who scored a league-high 275 goals during the regular season —was once again without rookie phenom Macklin Celebrini and the Steel struggled to get much going offensively in the first period for a second straight night.
Manz did his job to give his team a chance but the Steel needed a spark at the other end. Jack Harvey broke the ice 5:24 into the second period and Chicago took a 1-0 lead into the second intermission, trying to force a winner-take-all Game 5.
Just what we needed 🪄😇#FeelSteel https://t.co/WXxFyqGqiy pic.twitter.com/i33YakisCK— Chicago Steel (@ChicagoSteel) May 10, 2023
Chicago racked up 14 of its 29 shots in the second period and the Steel began to find their footing offensively. Yet they only had one goal to show for it.
However, that 1-0 lead held strong for the first 17 minutes of the third period — until Youngstown’s Kenta Isogai tied the game with 2:06 left, redirecting an Andon Cerbone shot into the Chicago net.
Chicago registered just six shots over the final 20 minutes and once again relied on Manz — who made 42 saves in the loss — between the pipes to force overtime.
At the same time, the Phantoms continued to generate chances and grab the momentum, especially after Isogai’s goal.
That momentum rolled into overtime and Youngstown’s top line of Shane Lachance, Martin Misiak and Whitelaw teamed up for the game-winner, sending those inside the Covelli Centre to their feet and eliminating the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
The goal that made us Eastern Conference Champions, courtesy of Will Whitelaw 😍 pic.twitter.com/0D4t84jbYX— Youngstown Phantoms (@YtownPhantoms) May 10, 2023
Youngstown has reached the Clark Cup Finals once in 2018 – coincidentally against Fargo. The Force won that series in four games and Youngstown will look to return the favor this time around.
Fargo will host Game 1 on Friday and Game 2 on Saturday at Scheels Arena before the series shifts back to Youngstown. Youngstown is perfect (4-0) on home ice throughout the playoffs and will now try to steal at least a game in Fargo against the Anderson Cup champs.
Youngstown 2, Chicago 1 OT
Youngstown 0-0-1-1 – 2
Chicago 0-1-0-0 – 1
CHI: Jack Harvey (Jake Livanavage, Christian Manz), 5:24, PP
YNG: Kenta Isogai (Andon Cerbone, Tomas Machu), 17:54
YNG: William Whitelaw (Shane Lachance, Martin Misiak), 7:50
SOG: Youngstown 19-11-12-2 – 44, Chicago 6-14-6-3 – 29
Penalty minutes: Youngstown 3-14, Chicago 2-4
Power Plays: Youngstown 0-2, Chicago 1-2
Saves: Jacob Fowler, Youngstown, 28; Christian Manz, Chicago, 42