YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Phantoms have agreed to a two-year contract extension with Head Coach and General Manager Anthony Noreen that will keep Coach Noreen behind the bench in the Mahoning Valley through the 2013-2014 season, team owner Bruce J. Zoldan announced today. As per club policy, the terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Last season Noreen, 29, led the Phantoms to a 32-21-7 record, finishing fourth in the United States Hockey League’s Eastern Conference and qualifying for the postseason for the first time in franchise history. The Phantoms also won their first Clark Cup playoff series with a two-game sweep of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders before bowing out to the top-seeded Green Bay Gamblers 3-games-to-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
“I’m extremely excited, honored and ultimately humbled to have the opportunity to be a head coach in this league and know I’m going to be with this organization for the next few years,” Noreen said. “I want to thank Bruce Zoldan, the Zoldan family and everyone in our front office and at B.J. Alan and Phantom Fireworks for all their support. There’s no secret that this is my dream and what I’ve wanted to do since Day 1, and I couldn’t be more thankful to Mr. Zoldan for giving me this opportunity and entrusting me with such a big endeavor. I hope to make him proud in the future.”
In his first season as a head coach, Noreen orchestrated a nine-win, 18-point swing as the Phantoms rose to prominence in their third year in the USHL. The 2011-2012 Phantoms set franchise records for wins (32), home wins (18), away wins (14), goals scored (202) and fewest goals allowed (196). Under Noreen’s high-octane coaching style, the Phantoms penalty kill unit led the entire USHL with 19 short-handed goals scored – two short of the all-time record of 21 set by the 2005-2006 Des Moines Buccaneers.
“I believe Anthony Noreen is a rising star in the coaching ranks, and I couldn’t be more excited to have him at the helm of the Phantoms for the next two seasons,” Zoldan said. “His performance this season speaks for itself. He helped put Youngstown on the national hockey map, and I have the upmost confidence that he will continue build upon that success as we pursue our ultimate goal of winning the USHL’s Clark Cup.”
Noreen was named the third head coach in Phantoms history on Aug. 10, 2011, taking over for Curtis Carr, who made the transition to the collegiate ranks by accepting an assistant coaching position at Merrimack College. Noreen was an assistant coach on Carr’s 2010-2011 staff, and he was instrumental in the development of current Denver defenseman Scott Mayfield, who was selected by the New York Islanders in the second round (34th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Prior to joining the Phantoms organization, Noreen, a Chicago native, spent three seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, University of Wisconsin – Steven’s Point. Under the tutelage of former USHL Coach of the Year Wil Nichol, who is now a scout with the Washington Capitals, Noreen and the Pointers amassed a 41-34-7 record from 2007-2010.
Noreen said that the experience he gained behind the bench in Youngstown this season was invaluable both in terms of his personal development and that of the team. He said that the team made major strides this season and he is looking forward to even more successes with assistant coaches Brad Patterson and Rob Rassey, as well as the strong core of players returning next season.
“We wanted to build an identity last season, and I think we’ve accomplished that. It starts with the leadership and the culture inside our locker room, but now I think people know what to expect when they play a Youngstown Phantoms team,” Noreen said. “The bar has been set, and we hope to exceed it.”
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)