Phantoms narrow search for new head coach
Anthony Noreen left to take a position in ECHL in Orlando
By Tom Williams
Since Anthony Noreen was hired as the head coach of the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears 10 days ago, life has been a whirlwind for Jason Koehler.
Two days later, the six-year assistant general manager of the Youngstown Phantoms was promoted to general manager of the USHL team.
His first tasks as GM? Finalizing the team’s 30-man protected list from June’s tryout camp and leading the search to replace Noreen, the Phantoms’ four-year head coach who guided the team to three playoff appearances.
Once Noreen’s hiring was announced, Koehler said the Phantoms were flooded with communications from prospective coaches.
“It’s an attractive job,” Koehler said. “People on the national level realize that this is program people want to be a part of.”
At least 50 qualified candidates have expressed interest, Koehler said. The list has been whittled down to 10. Koehler said it’s possible the Phantoms could name a new head coach sometime next week.
“We need to find the right person,” said Koehler, adding that team executives feel they don’t need a sweeping change. “The new coach doesn’t have to come in and blow things up, he can come in and just coach.”
His goal is to find someone who can teach while showing plenty of energy and charisma.
Phantoms assistant coaches Brad Patterson and John Rohan have applied for a promotion. Patterson has been with the team since the Phantoms first season (2009-10). Rohan joined the team last summer.
Koehler said that both can remain assistants if not picked to be the team’s fourth head coach in seven seasons.
“If they aren’t the new head coach, we want them back,” Koehler said. “They’ve been integral to our success.”
Koehler declined to release all of the players’ names on the team’s 30-man protected list that is due today at USHL headquarters.
He did confirm that the 10 players from last season who are eligible to return are on the list: goaltender Colin DeAugustine; defenseman Matt Miller, Vas Kolias, Ty Farmer and Kris Myllari; and forwards Chase Pearson, James Winkler, Kevin Conley, Matt Alvaro and Lukas Craggs.
Two others on the list are goaltender Ryan Bednard and defenseman Ryan Shea.
Pearson, Bednard and Shea were selected in last month’s NHL Draft. Shea was taken by the Chicago Blackhawks with the 121st selection, Pearson by the Detroit Red Wings with the 140th pick and Bednard by the Florida Panthers with the 206th pick.
Should all three make the club after August’s training camp, it will be the first time the Phantoms have had three NHL draft picks on the roster.
Not on the list is Kole Sherwood, who signed an entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Sherwood was projected to be one of the Phantoms’ top forwards this fall.