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Phantoms announce new head coach Ryan Ward

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown Phantoms announced Tuesday that Ryan Ward would be taking over as head coach this upcoming season.

Ward has been floating around the hockey world since 2008 and got his start as a video coach for the New York Islanders.

Since then, he’s made multiple stops and has spent time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Soo Greyhounds (Ontario Hockey League), San Antonio Rampage (American Hockey League) and most recently, the Tri-City Storm and their youth program, the Windy City Storm.

Over the years, he’s crossed paths with Phantoms co-GMs Jason Deskins and Ryan Kosecki, making this transition much easier.

“Jason Deskins, Ryan Kosecki and I have coached against each other for a while,” Ward said. “Being on the same page as those guys was great. … Being on the same page of how we’re going to play and player development and obviously, getting these guys to reach their long term goals as players and as people, everything kind of aligned and couldn’t have worked out better.”

Ward, a Bowling Green alumnus, will be returning to Ohio.

From all his stops over the years, Ward has adopted a philosophy of learning, then taking what you’ve learned and adapting it.

Working with guys like now-Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe and former Phantoms coach Anthony Noreen has expanded Ward’s philosophies.

Expect to see the Phantoms doing a little bit of everything on the ice this season.

“I’m a huge believer that one plus one is three,” Ward said. “You take what you like from people that you work with, and you learn from it and you mesh it with your own philosophy. I think how we’re going to play in Youngstown is going to be a little bit of everything from those guys that I’ve worked with, and those people I’ve learned from.”

Ward went on to say how the Phantoms would be playing a higher-tempo game, focused more on defensive zone exits and puck possession.

“We are going to be a team that is in your face, that defends hard, that wins transitions from offensive to defensive and defensive to offensive,” Ward said. “We’re going to be a team that is always coming out. I think that’s the biggest thing for me, is everybody’s going to be involved in our attacks. We’re going to try to possess the puck, we’re going to be tight and we’re going to play a style of hockey that I think our players will love to play and I think everyone benefits from. It’s going to be a very up-tempo and competitive style.”

The Phantoms also announced that the contracts of associate head coach Andy Contois and assistant coach Brandon Gotkin have been extended through the 2024-2025 season.

“Extending the contracts of Andy and Brandon was a priority for us and our program,” President of Hockey Operations Keith Primeau said in a press release. “They have done an excellent job in guiding and developing our players and are immense parts of the future of the Phantoms.

“They are well respected amongst our ownership group and management team, and we could not be happier that they will be part of the program’s direction as we ascend the ranks of junior hockey and the USHL. These signings, along with Ryan’s, provide long term stability for our program and we cannot wait to get started.”

The Phantoms and former coach Brad Patterson decided to part ways at the end of Patterson’s contract.

Patterson has been a part of the Phantoms since the 2009-10 season as an assistant coach, and was promoted to head coach for the 2016-17 season.

He ends his tenure with the Phantoms as the all-time leader in games coached and wins and had a final record of 164-136-43 in the regular season.

“I want to thank Brad for all he has done for the Youngstown Phantoms organization,” said Phantoms president Andrew Goldman in a press release. “He has been the consummate professional and has developed elite hockey players and more importantly, incredible young men.

“The Phantoms are in fantastic shape heading into next year and beyond and much of that is thanks to Brad’s years of tireless commitment to the team and to its players.”

Phantoms camp kicks off in July at the PrintScape Arena in Pittsburgh.

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