CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Thursday was an incredible night for the Youngstown Phantoms Organization. The team played its first outdoor game at First Energy Stadium.
The team put on a show under the lights at the home of the Cleveland Browns. It is an experience that Phantoms fans and the entire organization won’t soon forget.
“It’s unbelievable,” said defenseman Chase Pietila. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of opportunity. Like, we’re never going to have this again, if ever, you know, it’s all the fans that came out. We got to say thank you to them. I mean, it was unbelievable.”
Phantoms fans were equally as impressed.
“This is amazing,” said Campbell resident Jerry Deets. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to make it out to all the outdoor game Phantoms. You can’t go wrong.”
“I think I’ve just been trying to soak it in the whole time,” admitted Goalie Jacob Fowler. “We’re fortunate enough to get on the ice today. I mean, I don’t know how many pictures and videos I’ve taken, but yeah, is it going to last a while.”
The Phantoms would fall behind early in this one, one to nothing, but then would score four straight goals including two by Andon Cerbone. Youngstown came away with a 4-1 win over Cedar Rapids.
“For us, we knew it was going to be a long 60 minutes,” said head coach Ryan Ward. “You don’t know what the variables on the ice are, and I thought we stuck with it. I thought we were really tight defensively. We made simple plays when we had to and we executed when we had to.”
Ward is hoping that a showcase like this will only help develop the USHL as well as the team even further.
“To have our league showcase, you know, in a place like this, in a game like this is something really special,” Ward said. “For our team, I think, it’s again, it’s a we want to be the best place to play junior hockey in the world. It’s a testament to our organization, the direction we’re going.”