Esposito returns to Phantoms in 2016-17 season

YOUNGSTOWN – Phantoms forward Alex Esposito will return for his second year with the club, as he’ll be one of seven returnees from last year’s 31-win team. However, when the Phantoms begin the 2016-17 season Saturday on the road against Team USA, there will be one newcomer that is more familiar to Alex than anyone else on the roster.

That newcomer, Eric Esposito, is Alex’s younger brother.

“We played together for two years in prep school at Loomis Chaffe (Windsor, Conn.), which was a lot of fun,” Alex said. “And then, when we got here (Phantoms) together, it’s even more fun.

“Obviously media and more fans and things like that. It’s a good experience to share with him.”

Not surprisingly, Alex says he grew up in a hockey family and he says he fell in love with the game at a young age, with the dream to make it to the NHL someday.

At Loomis Chaffe, Esposito scored 94 points in 78 games, over three seasons. However, playing in the United States Hockey League has allowed Alex to learn a more advanced form of hockey, which has helped to make him a better player.

“Coming up to the USHL, playing with the Phantoms, you learn about preparing for a game,” Esposito said. “It’s a 60-game schedule, so it’s a long year. You learn how to prepare and get yourself up for each night. You learn a more detailed hockey game, kind of like a pro-style (game), (compared to) what I was coming from.”

In 2015-16 with the Phantoms, Esposito played in 58 games and scored 25 points, including 11 goals. Esposito says that year two with the Phantoms should be more comfortable for him, as he understands what’s expected of him as a returning player.

“You know what it takes, you see other guys really succeed in this league, and you kinda follow them,” Esposito said. “I’m pretty much trying to increase my point numbers and play a whole game, be a responsible player in the zone, and be a productive player on offense.”

Esposito will then begin his college career with the University of Vermont in 2017, a school to which he commited a couple of years a ago. He said that at the time, Vermont was his only real offer, and he jumped at the opportunity to go there.

One reason for that, Esposito explained, is because he has friends that go there. Also, Esposito said he fell in love with the school and coaching staff, which is always a good sign as far as college choices go. As for the style of player that Vermont will receive, and Phantoms fans are currently witnessing, it starts with reliability.

“I’m an energetic player, I like to play tough,” Esposito explained. “I’m not too flashy, but I like to make plays and I like to be responsible all over the ice. (I just) really do anything the coaches ask me to do, or the team asks me to do.”