Phantoms Alumni Make Impressions at NHL Prospect CampsJuly 31, 2012 - United States Hockey League (USHL) Youngstown Phantoms
"It's the team I grew up rooting for so it was definitely cool to see and use their facilities," Ambrosia said. "The first day, you don't really know what to expect... but as the week went on, you treat it as any other camp and try to focus on just working hard on the ice."
Ambrosia is one of six Phantoms alumni who have taken part in NHL prospect camps this summer. Another former Phantoms captain Adam Berkle, now a forward at Bowling Green, was invited to Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders prospect camps, while Nebraska-Omaha defenseman Andrej Sustr was invited to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning camps. Out west, Denver forward Ty Loney and Miami (Ohio) defenseman Ben Paulides, Phantoms teammates from 2010-11, were reunited at the San Jose Sharks prospect camp.
"It's a good experience. It's a lot faster than I'm used to - bigger guys - but I feel like I'm fitting in well," Berkle told USHL.com during the Blackhawks camp. "[Playing in Youngstown] helped me improve my game a lot and get to my college level and eventually here."
Denver defenseman Scott Mayfield, who was selected by the Islanders in the second round (34th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft after a two-year stint with the Phantoms, wrapped up his second prospect camp on June 29. The blue liner was named a USHL All-Star in his final season in the Mahoning Valley and put together a strong freshman campaign with the Pioneers in 2011-12.
Mayfield said being able to draw on experiences from the past two seasons, along with having another year to physically mature and fill out his 6-foot-4 frame, helped put him more at ease at the Isles' prospect camp this go-round.
"I went from U-16 AAA to playing in the USHL with Youngstown... and that step really helped me along in my progression, especially in my draft year. It really helped get me noticed," he said. "Then the experience of getting a year of college under my belt really helped me step up more for my second development camp."
Mayfield said it also helped to know a number of the returning prospects and have some familiarity with the Islanders coaching staff. The fact that he had the chance to catch up with Berkle, a former teammate with the Phantoms, made it even better.
"I hadn't seen Adam since the day we left Youngstown, so it was nice to be able to see him again," Mayfield said. "We had a lot of free time throughout the day so we got to hang out quite a bit. It was a lot of fun."
When they weren't on the ice, Mayfield, Berkle and the rest of the campers went through rigorous off-ice conditioning and testing, but they also got the chance to take in the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. One night they attended a New York Mets game and on the final day of camp, they had the chance to hit the beach.
During their time off, Ambrosia and his fellow rookie camp attendees got the chance to visit the city as well. But it was at the AmeriHealth Pavilion, the practice rink adjacent to the Devil's home Prudential Center, that the soon-to-be Princeton Tiger made the most of his opportunity.
He soaked in everything he could from a New Jersey staff that came within two games of the Stanley Cup little more than a month earlier. In four intra-squad scrimmages, Ambrosia potted a pair of goals, including the opening goal for the Red team in its 3-2 win on the final day of camp. Suffice it to say, it was an impressive showing for the undrafted free agent invitee.
"It was definitely nice to contribute in the games," he said. "Every level you go out there with some kinds of adjustments to make... but if you work hard and focus on those things, you can succeed."
Phantoms head coach Anthony Noreen said that seeing Ambrosia and other former Phantoms making an impact at prospect camps throughout the NHL is a great source of pride for the organization.
"It speaks volumes about how far the program has come and what we've accomplished here, away from the games that go on down at the Covelli Centre," he said. "When [Phantoms owner] Bruce Zoldan got into it, his goal was to make sure when guys left here, they left better-suited as people and hockey players.
"That's a big part of it - guys getting the chance to play in the NHL."
It was a chance, Ambrosia said, that he would have never gotten were it not for his time in the USHL with the Phantoms.
"My experience in Youngstown was tremendous. The last two years - I wouldn't trade them for anything," he said. "The hockey and development side is unbelievable. The coaches really know the game. Every single day they try to develop you as a player and person and prepare you to be a professional."
Season tickets for the 2012-13 season are on sale now. For a limited time, season ticket plans for all 32 home games next season start at the low price of just $160, but only if fans lock in by July 31. Call the Phantoms office 330.747.PUCK (7825) for more information or to reserve seats today. For all the latest Phantoms news, visit www.YoungstownPhantoms.com .
United States Hockey League Stories from July 31, 2012
- Phantoms Alumni Make Impressions at NHL Prospect Camps - Youngstown Phantoms
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