Phantom Philes: Youngstown Invests In Futures
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - These are the Phantom Philes, a weekly comprehensive look at Youngstown's stop on the road to the National Hockey League.
Sitting in the Youngstown Phantoms' draft "war room" at the Covelli Centre Tuesday afternoon, Assistant GM/Director of Player Personnel Jason Koehler was asked to sum up how the just-completed USHL Futures Draft went for the second-year club.
"On a scale of one to 10, it was about a 12," he said.
Koehler's exuberance included, the consensus among the Phantoms' Hockey Operations staff was that the array of talent they selected in the six-round draft of 1994-born players was better than they had hoped.
"They're all exceptional young players who are going to be a part of this team, some this year and some next year," said Head Coach/GM Curtis Carr. "We wanted to make sure we got the best possible players to build the team around."
Assistant coaches Anthony Noreen and Brad Patterson joined Carr and Koehler in the Covelli Centre's conference room for the start of the Futures Draft at 11 a.m. Eastern time. By virtue of a random drawing, the Phantoms had the 12th pick in the first round, soon to be followed by the 19th selection as the order was reversed in the second, fourth and sixth rounds.
The first young player nabbed by the Phantoms' brain trust was defenseman Tim Davison of Notre Dame Academy in the Green Bay suburb of De Pere, Wisc. The 5-foot-9 lefthanded shooter was considered the top Badger State blueliner in his draft class.
"Tim really came on strong as of late and had a great combine last weekend that improved his stock," Koehler said. "He's a talented defenseman who can play in all situations and has a chance to develop into a top-two guy in the USHL and at a high-level college."
With their second-round selection quickly approaching, the Phantoms reloaded and snagged Ryan Fitzgerald with the 19th overall pick. Standing at 5-foot-8, the centerman played for prestigious Malden Catholic High School in eastern Massachusetts and is committed to NCAA hockey power Boston College for the 2013-14 academic year.
"This is a very intelligent player with good hockey sense who makes everyone around him better," Koehler said.
After making their first two selections in a matter of 10 minutes, the Phantoms had more than a half hour to deliberate before their next pick arrived at No. 42. With the wait over, Youngstown added another Boston College-bound center in Austin Cangelosi. Originally from Estero, Fla., Cangelosi skated at northern Massachusetts' Northfield Mount Hermon School with his older brother John.
"Austin is an extremely slippery, skilled scoring-line forward who lit up prep hockey," Koehler said.
The Purple and Orange's fourth round pick came rapidly at No. 49, and it yielded defenseman Matthew Grzelcyk of Charlestown, Mass., from the well-regarded Belmont Hill School.
Called "the best New England-area defenseman of his birth class" by Koehler, the U.S. Hockey Report describes the 5-foot-9 lefty rearguard as "agile, mobile, quick and highly skilled." Grzelcyk will attend Boston University in the fall of 2013.
On the heels of selecting two defensemen and a pair of centers, the Phantoms added goaltender Dalton Izyk of Oswego, N.Y., to their collection of talents with the 72nd pick near the end of the fifth round.
One of only five gentlemen invited to the U.S. National Team Development Program's goalie camp in March, Izyk "is a very technically sound goaltender who will benefit tremendously from working with [goaltending coach] Shane Clifford."
With their sixth and final selection, the Phantoms trained their gaze locally, snapping up left wing Alec Coleman of Moon Township, Pa., with the 79th selection. Coleman racked up 44 points in 38 games for the Pittsburgh Hornets Under-16 team and head coach Jeff Potter - known as "The Wizard" to the Phantoms' staff.
"Of course we like to have regional players and Alec was the top young player in the Pittsburgh area this year," Koehler said.
The addition of six fresh faces to the Phantoms' brood offset earlier news that Michigan-born forward Nick Czinder was chosen by the Muskegon (Mich.) Lumberjacks in the USHL Expansion Draft late Monday.
For a full recap of the Futures Draft, access www.ushldraft.com. Sports blogging giant SB Nation has extensive in-depth coverage as well at www.sbnation.com.
Follow tomorrow's USHL Entry Draft, set to begin Wednesday at 11 a.m. Eastern time, at www.ushl.com.
PHEELS LIKE THE PHIRST TIME:
Help the offseason move along quickly by looking back at the Phantoms' first season in the USHL. This week, Youngstown earns its third win in four games against the Des Moines Buccaneers:
Friday, November 6, 2009: YOUNGSTOWN 5, DES MOINES 4
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - They don't ask how, they ask how many.
Up 5-1 midway through Friday night's game at the Covelli Centre, the Youngstown Phantoms ultimately held on to prevail 5-4 over the feisty Des Moines Buccaneers, running their season-long winning streak to four in a row. The Phantoms have now grabbed a pair of wins to kick off a five-game homestand.
Brett Gensler was the only Phantom with multiple points on the night with a goal and an assist. His unassisted tally at 8:37 of the second held up as the game winner, his third decider of the campaign. Gensler now has 10 points, tying him with Taylor Holstrom for the team lead.
Holstrom capped a three-goal first period for the Phantoms by driving home a loose puck in the low slot with 4:50 to go in the stanza. Brian Dowd (power play - 1:29) and Nick Czinder (7:14) ripped the twine in the opening minutes to counteract Ryan Walters' even-strength rebound goal 2:18 into the contest.
The 3-1 Youngstown lead quickly became a three-goal margin when Adam Berkle nailed his fourth of the season, converting the huge rebound of Stuart Higgins' long shot. Berkle buried the puck between goalie Keegan Asmundson's legs, who was seeing his first action as a member of the Bucs.
Asmundson contributed to his own demise on Gensler's presumed backbreaker, as he attempted to flip the puck past the forechecking Phantoms winger but instead fired it right at him. Gensler calmly gloved it down and banked a 30-footer off a Des Moines defenseman and into the yawning cage to make it 5-1.
The Bucs didn't back down, generating two momentum-switching goals less than three minutes apart late in the middle frame. Taylor Wolfe one-timed a centering pass at 14:27 to cut it to 5-2, then set up Dan O'Donoghue with a sharp feed of his own with 2:39 to go before the second intermission.
H.T. Lenz's wrister fooled Youngstown goalie Jordan Tibbett at 9:39 of the third, making the Bargain Beer Night crowd uneasy, but the Phantoms locked down their own zone the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
Special teams played a key role, as Youngstown scored twice on the power play while killing off all four Des Moines opportunities with the man advantage. The Phantoms had given up a power play goal in all 10 of their previous games this season, but the penalty kill came up aces Friday, including a clutch denial with just over five minutes to play.
The Phantoms claimed the season series with Des Moines three games to one, and these two interdivision sparring partners won't meet again unless it's in the Clark Cup Final. It's a shame because each match-up between the two was a thriller; the aggregate score was 17-16 in favor of Youngstown with the Phantoms claiming all three wins by just one goal apiece.
The Youngstown Phantoms are a Member Club of the United States Hockey League (USHL), America's only Tier I hockey league and premier developer of National Hockey League talent with more than 100 alumni on current NHL rosters.
Visit www.youngstownphantoms.com or call the Front Office at 330.747.PUCK(7825) for more information on the Phantoms organization. The Youngstown Phantoms are owned by the B.J. Alan Company (Phantom Fireworks), located in Youngstown, Ohio.
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