By Greg Gulas
As far back as the second grade, Anthony Noreen knew he wanted to be a hockey coach.
The recent rains in Chicago, his hometown, bore that out when his parents’ basement flooded and some of his school papers and memorabilia were recovered; most notably a drawing that he made when he was in the second grade that had him behind the bench of the USA Hockey Team, standing up right and proud as its head mentor.
“I don’t remember drawing that picture, but I can tell you that ever since I was old enough to skate I always knew that I wanted to be a head coach,” said Noreen, who was named coach of the Youngstown Phantoms on Wednesday.
“My parents found that picture of me and it is rather ironic that it was the one thing that survived the flooding of our basement,” Noreen said.
Noreen replaces Curtis Carr, who accepted an assistant coaching position at Merrimack College.
“In the last 48 hours or so I received hundreds of calls, emails and text messages from coaches around the country, wanting to come here and be our next head coach,” said team owner Bruce Zoldan. “When I talked to the experts, they told me to find a young man with a fire in his belly, someone who had a passion for winning and who comes from a good family background.
“We felt very comfortable with Anthony after talking with him, knowing full well that he was the right person for the job,” said Zoldan.
While Noreen will draw quite a bit from Carr in his new position, he made it known that he will be his own man behind the bench with players accountable both on and off the ice.
“I learned a great deal from Coach Carr, not only about hockey but about being a better person as well,” said Noreen.
“I welcome the challenge of being the next Phantoms coach with open arms, knowing full that there are three types of players that we want to recruit for our team,” he added.
“We want talented players; players that are entertaining and who will open the eyes of the fans and scouts. “We want elite … players who shine both on and off the ice and in the community. Finally, we want players with great attitudes. Everyone’s fine when things are going all right as a team and individually. In a 60-game schedule, we’ll teach the guys how to handle the ups and downs of a long season.”
Noreen said he and his staff will constantly be evaluating the players.
“We’ll build off of Curtis and the characteristics that he wanted both on and off the ice.
“However, on the ice I’m a more aggressive, in-your-face type of coach and I want us to build our own identity.
“I want a team that will embody the work ethic of this Valley; that fabric being one that is hard-working, blue collar and in your face.”