Phantoms take command of Clark Cup with OT win over Force in Game 2
The Youngstown Phantoms netted an OT goal to beat Fargo on Saturday and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Clark Cup Final.
FARGO — Youngstown's Andon Cerbone soured many Fargo Force fans' evening on Saturday night.
Cerbone buried the game-winning goal in overtime and the Phantoms won 2-1 in Game 2 of the Clark Cup Finals before 3,967 at Scheels Arena.
Youngstown took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five championship series.
“It’s a great feeling,” Cerbone said. “Everyone wants to score a goal like that in their career, but we try not to get too ahead of ourselves. Now we have to go back home and finish the job.”
Youngstown found the scoreboard first.
Miles Gunty scored from the slot on a pass from Tyler Catalono at 3:49 of the second period. It was Gunty’s second goal of the series.
The lead didn’t hold long.
Fargo’s Bret Link sniped a shot past Youngstown goaltender Jacob Fowler on a backhanded top-shelf at 9:27 of the second on an assist from Jakob Stender.
Both teams fought back-and-forth in the third period with neither team scoring to send the game to overtime. The Force had 29 shots and Youngstown had 22 at the end of regulation.
Cerbone set off a Phantoms' celebration with his goal at 6:59 of overtime.
“We have a plethora of experience in these types of games,” said Phantoms head coach Ryan Ward. “All year long we’ve gone through different things and I’m proud of our guys for sticking steady on it and finding a way to win.”
Goaltending continued to be a defining factor throughout the championship series. Fargo’s Matej Marinov stopped 24 of 26 shots. Fowler stopped 30 of 31.
“They’re both super steady,” Ward said. “When you have those goaltenders it’s a war of attrition and you kind of have to stick with your game plan and hopefully a couple go in.”
Despite the loss, Force head coach Nick Oliver said his team played a more complete game offensively than in Game 1.
“This game lived up, in a lot of ways, to what you expect in a championship series.” Oliver said. “It was back-and-forth on both sides, the goaltenders played really well and it was a one-shot game. I’m more happy with how our group responded tonight than in Game 1.”
The Phantoms' quickness on both ends caused troubles for the Force. The speedy play is part of the Phantoms' identity and something Fargo looks to counter as the series now moves to Youngstown.
“Our defending in transition needs to get better.” Oliver said. “A majority of the chances that we gave up were in transition of the rush. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping numbers in front of us.”
Fargo faces the daunting task of having to win both games at Youngstown to keep its cup hopes alive.
The teams play Game 3 at 6:05 p.m. (CDT) on Friday, May 19 in Youngstown, Ohio. Game 4, if necessary, is set for 6:05 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday, May 20. If Fargo can get the series to a fifth game, the Force hosts on Tuesday, May 23, at Scheels Arena.
Youngstown's approach is simple, Cerbone said.
“We just gotta stay humble, keep the energy up and keep buzzing,” he said.
Youngstown 0 1 0 1 - 2
Fargo 0 1 0 0 - 1
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Whitelaw Yng (charging), 4:17; Willson Yng (roughing), 14:32; Russell Fgo (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 14:32.
2nd Period-1, Youngstown, Gunty 2 (Catalano, Machu), 2:49. 2, Fargo, Link 1 (Stender), 9:27. Penalties-Scott Fgo (cross checking), 4:55; Link Fgo (charging), 18:56.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
1st OT Period-3, Youngstown, Cerbone 4 (Rozzi, Pietila), 6:59. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Youngstown 6-8-9-3-26. Fargo 12-9-8-2-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Youngstown 0 / 2; Fargo 0 / 1.
Goalies-Youngstown, Fowler (31 shots-30 saves). Fargo, Marinov (26 shots-24 saves).
Referees-David Lilly, Anthony Vikhter.
Linesmen-Ben Gawlik, Tyler Willie.