PHANTOMS Coach: This is our best team yet
Bob Mainhardt said the team added leadership and character.
BOARDMAN -- When the North American Hockey League opens its 2005-06 season on Sept. 9, look for the Youngstown Phantoms to be improved in two very critical areas.
At a press conference held at The Ice Zone Monday, coach and general manager Bob Mainhardt announced the 29 players that will -- for the most part -- comprise his roster, noting that area fans should expect more leadership and character from the team.
"I feel this is the best team that we have assembled to date," he said. "With five total games and a practice session this past weekend, we had a chance to evaluate all 60 players in camp and they were all very impressive. This was a long, meticulous process but we are happy and confident with our selections."
Five players from last year's Phantoms' roster, including captain Anthony Ciraulo, Mike Maltese, Marc Menzione, Owen Meyer and Naaman Moorman, were selected. Two players from the defunct Soo Kewadin Casinos Indians -- Drew Satterley and Brandon Getchen -- highlight this year's picks.
"This wasn't much different than last year's tryouts. I worked just as hard but felt a little more confident," Ciraulo said. "I just hoped to lead by example, helping the younger players out along the way.
"As for adding [Drew] Satterley and [Brandon] Getchen from the Soo Indians, they will definitely be a big boost to our team."
Satterley and Getchen agreed that the attraction that brought them to the Phantoms was Mainhardt.
"It's different when you just visit as an opponent, never really getting a chance to see the city during the brief time you are here," Satterley stated. "I like the make-up of the roster but the real selling point for me was Mainhardt. He is a stand-up guy and I am really looking forward to playing for him."
Added Getchen: "This is my third year in the league and the right time for me for a change of scenery. I see plenty of talent on this roster and it has been a most positive experience thus far. I really like what Coach Mainhardt and [the] staff have to offer."
Two area standouts, Zack Skook of Boardman and Taylor Cera of Warren JFK, were not selected but still remain a part of Mainhardt's plans. Both are expected to become a part of the Phantoms' AAA independent squad that will begin play this fall.
"Our job is to develop and promote local hockey as well, and this is a great start for both Skook and Cera," Mainhardt said.
"This group will be selected before the area high school season and they will play a 35-game, split schedule," he added. "I really believe that it will only be a matter of time before they are wearing a Phantom uniform."
A 58-game regular season schedule awaits the Phantoms with their first seven contests and the first of two NAHL Showcase (in Blaine, Minn.) games coming on the road.
The Phantoms will host the second NAHL Showcase at The Ice Zone Jan. 19-22. They open the home season on Oct. 29 against Traverse City (Mich.)
The Phantoms open their season at the U.S. National Under-18 team.