I didn’t realize till earlier this year that there’s a minor league hockey team in my area. They’re called the Youngstown Phantoms, and their story is pretty interesting.
The Phantoms are owned by Bruce Zoldan, who is the founder and CEO of Phantom Fireworks (hence their name and the logo that they share with the company). They play in the East Division of the United States Hockey League (USHL) but aren’t affiliated with any major league team. From their inception in 2003 till 2009, they played with the North American Hockey League in the North Division. After the first two years, they changed their name from Youngstown to Mahoning Valley because of the arrival of the Youngstown SteelHounds of the Central Hockey League. But then the Steelhounds went belly up in 2008, and when the Phantoms moved to the USHL in 2009 they took back the city’s name.
At first, they played at the Ice Zone in Boardman, which is where they now practice. Since moving to the USHL, they play at the Covelli Centre, which is also the home of high school basketball tournaments (my nephew’s been in them) and the annual Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas concert among other things. Hey, it’s a vast improvement from 1000 seats to 5000!
Here are their jerseys for home:
Because it’s a junior league team, the website has an application for billet families, or families that are willing to host the young men (one forward is barely 18! They’re babies!) while they play here. I also looked up the ticket prices for these guys in the hopes that someone in my family will take pity on me and go with me to a game. Turns out that ice-level tickets are only $15! Sheesh, I really need to go.
Fun fact: in this year’s NHL Draft, a Phantom was selected! Defenseman Scott Mayfield, all of 18 till his birthday on October 14, was selected 34th overall by the New York Islanders but has committed to play for the University of Denver. Here’s to a bright future for him with the Isles!