YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio– The Youngstown Phantoms take great pride in announcing that right wing Ryan Belonger has committed to play hockey at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., in 2012-13, becoming the second Phantoms player to commit to play NCAA Division I hockey this season, joining defenseman Mike Gunn on the Huskies roster next season.
A native of Green Bay, Wis., Belonger is in his second season with the Phantoms and has racked up two goals and five assists through six games so far. In 2010-2011 he netted 21 goals, which was the second highest total for all returning players in the United States Hockey League heading into this year’s campaign.
Belonger said the chance to play in Matthews Arena, the former home of the NHL’s Boston Bruins and the oldest indoor ice arena still in use, helped sell him on Northeastern.
“The history they have in that program and in Matthews Arena made it seem like a great place to play hockey,” he said. “And I fell in love with Boston. It was a place I could really see myself spending the next four years.”
Phantoms Head Coach Anthony Noreen said that Belonger, who the Phantoms selected with their 17th-round pick in the 2010 USHL Entry Draft, is one of his greatest coaching success stories.
“When we got Ryan he was a natural goal scorer, but there were some holes in his game,” he said. “To his credit, he didn’t want to be a one-dimensional player. He put in the work and now he is probably our most responsible player in his own end and the scoring touch is still there. He’s a special player.
“Northeastern is getting a great player, but they’re getting an even better young man, who is going to make that program much better in the future.”
Located in the heart on Boston, Northeastern is a member of the powerhouse Hockey East conference, which has produced seven NCAA Men’s Hockey National Champions since 1993. Through five games this season, the Huskies are in fourth place in the 10-team conference.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)