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Phantoms’ Kuntar set for world event

The World Junior A Challenge is a competition comprised of the top hockey players across the world’s ‘Junior A’ leagues, each representing their nation. The Youngstown Phantoms can add another name to the list of competitors with forward Trevor Kuntar making the ranks for the 2019 team.

“I’m just really honored for the opportunity to represent my country and to represent the Phantoms’ organization,” Kuntar said.

At the quarter mark of the season, Kuntar has had an impressive year thus far, tallying points in all but four games this season. He is fourth in the United States Hockey League in both points (22) and goals (11).

The downside is that the tournament takes place during the USHL season, leaving Phantoms coach Brad Patterson without one of his top players for four games. Patterson is confident in his players to step up and fill the gaps when needed.

“You want nothing but the best for your players and this is something Trevor has worked for and definitely deserves,” Patterson said. “From a coaching perspective you never like to lose a player and a significant one at that, but it also gives us the opportunity to give players more … Guys step up and rise to the occasion when someone is out of the lineup, so that’s how we address it.”

Every player selected to represent Team USA is a member of one of the 16 teams that make up the USHL. Kuntar is the lone Phantom on the list, but will be joined by two future teammates of his when they make the jump to Harvard University.

Future Crimson Sean Farrell of the Chicago Steel and Alex Laferriere of the Des Moines Buccaneers are also representing Team USA, along with three NHL draft picks. Kuntar is excited to see what the team is capable of doing together.

“I’m just excited to see what kind of talent we have,” Kuntar said. “It’s weird playing against these guys and then coming to play on the same team as them.”

The Phantoms have had many players in the past go, including Kyle Connor (2014), Curtis Hall (2017), Jack Malone (2018) and New York Islanders defender Scott Mayfield, who won the MVP in 2010.

Kuntar was roommates with Hall during his first season with the Phantoms and tried to absorb as much as he could from the Boston Bruins draft pick.

“Curtis was my roommate my first year and that was awesome,” Kuntar said. “I just kind of saw how he led and what he’d do and then along the way he became one of my good buddies too.”

Kuntar himself has been garnering some NHL draft attention, being ranked by NHL Central Scouting as a ‘C’ prospect, which estimates he would fall in between the fourth and sixth rounds of the draft. That attention isn’t getting to him however, as he’s focused on helping the Phantoms as much as he can.

“I’m really not thinking about it now because it’s just rankings,” Kuntar said. “At the end of the day I just want to keep working hard and keep improving with everyone else.”

The tournament begins Tuesday with an exhibition match between Team USA and Canada East. The official start of the tournament is Dec. 7 against Canada West.

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