The junior team will have its roster determined by Aug. 31.
BOARDMAN -- When the Mahoning Valley Phantoms ice hockey team released its 29-player training camp roster five weeks ago, some wondered how coach Bob Mainhardt could meet the North American Hockey League deadline and reduce it to the 25-player limit by Aug. 31.
They knew that Mainhardt would have only 10 days to consider which four players would be cut.
"There were still many other teams that held final camps after we did," Mainhardt said. "A few of our 29 players tried out for those teams that, in the end, could give them more ice time than if they were playing here.
"We had a couple players take that route and we wish them the best," Mainhardt said. "It's an understanding between player and coach and what role they would have on your team."
That, combined with other forms of attrition gave the Phantoms a roster of 24 when training camp opened this week at The Ice Zone.
"If I would have cut that roster any further in July, I would have more difficulty in trying to talk a player to come back after I just cut them," Mainhardt said. "I think any coach would've faced the same challenge."
The roster is likely to be trimmed by at least one more spot, as there are three goaltenders taking part in practice, and it is doubtful that the Phantoms will carry all three come Sept. 1.
"Normally, you enter training camp with two goaltenders that will fight for the number one spot," Mainhardt said. "But I have three highly-skilled players that I want to get a long look at. It's a good problem to have with regards to this much talent, but it will be a tough decision to let one go."
The Phantoms will continue to practice twice a day, at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The Phantoms begin the regular season on the road on Sept. 9 against the U.S. National Under-18 Team in Ann Arbor, Mich.