Phantoms get chance at revenge vs. Bandits

Mahoning Valley lost to St. Louis in last year’s NAHL championship.

BOARDMAN — Nearly six months after playing for the North American Hockey League’s Championship, the Mahoning Valley Phantoms can gain a measure of revenge when they open the home portion of their 2007-2008 regular season schedule.

The Phantoms’ home opener is Nov. 2 when they host the defending Robertson Cup champion St. Louis Bandits at the Ice Zone in Boardman. On May 6, the Bandits defeated the Phantoms 8-4 for the NAHL championship in Fairbanks, Alaska.

For the third consecutive year, the Phantoms’ regular season will kick off in Blaine, Minn., at the NAHL Showcase. On Sept. 19, they will face another Robertson Cup tournament team, the Southern Minnesota Express, to open the season.

The Phantoms are the defending North Division champions. St. Louis, last season’s South Division champs, will join the Phantoms in the North Division this season as the NAHL welcomes its 18th franchise. The expansion Kenai Valley (Alaska) Brown Bears will replace the Bandits in the South.

Among the other changes include a reduction in the regular season schedule from 62 to 58 games. Also, after a one-year hiatus, the Phantoms will host a North Division Showcase from Jan. 18-21 at the Ice Zone.

Joining the Phantoms for the four-day event will be their division rivals; the Alpena Ice Diggers, Marquette Rangers, Traverse City North Stars, the U.S. National Team’s Development Program and St. Louis.

Of the Phantoms’ first 23 games, 21 are on the road, including 15 to start. The second half of the season is quite the contrast. The Phantoms are home for 23 of their last 29 contests.

The 2007-2008 Phantoms’ roster will be determined next weekend at their invitational camp from July 19-22 at the Ice Zone. Teams will conduct morning practices with games scheduled at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. during the first three days.

On July 22, the camp concludes with the All-Star game at 2:30 p.m. The four-day tryout is open to the public and admission is free.

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