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By Julie Mros, 08/21/17, 10:00AM EDT


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Youngstown Phantoms Assistant Coach Tom Upton is heading two hours north of Youngstown to take the next step in his coaching career. Upton has accepted a position with the Mercyhurst University Lakers Men's Hockey Team, Phantoms General Manager Jason Koehler announced today.

Mercyhurst University is a Division I college hockey program that competes in the Atlantic Hockey Conference and is located in Erie, Pennsylvania.

"The staff here and myself are very happy for Tom," Koehler said. "His goal has been to move on and advance to the collegiate level and he’s earned that opportunity now with Mercyhurst. We wish him, his wife Sarah, and his son Briggs a safe move and successful future in Erie, PA."

Upton leaves the Phantoms organization after one season where the team finished with a 34-20-5-1 record and qualified for the USHL Playoffs before falling to the eventual USHL champion Chicago Steel. He joined Phantoms staff in August 2016, just prior to Head Coach Brad Patterson's first season as Head Coach.

Upton is a New York native who played four years as a defenseman at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, where he also earned his Bachelor’s degree in Strength and Conditioning and a Master’s in Education of Athletes. His college career was preceded by four seasons in the NAHL (Tier II Junior Hockey), including time in Youngstown, with the then Mahoning Valley Phantoms.

Following his years on the ice, Upton spent the first three years of his coaching career as the Assistant Coach and Strength and Conditioning coach at his alma mater, followed by the same position with the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders (USHL). Upton was also the Head Coach / General Manager for the NAHL’s Minnesota Magicians prior to his time with the Phantoms.

“I’m very thankful for the time I had here in Youngstown with the Phantoms,” said Upton. “Working with Brad Patterson and Jeff Potter every day, as well as Jason Koehler was a blast. We had a good time and I had a chance to learn a lot from those guys which will help me transition in the coaching and recruiting side of college hockey. I also appreciate the opportunity given to me by the Phantoms’ ownership group as Youngstown is great place to develop, not only for the players, but the staff as well.”

Upton becomes the second Phantoms’ Assistant Coach to join the Mercyhurst coaching staff following John Ronan in the 2015-2016 season (Ronan is now at Union College).

Former Phantoms currently playing at Mercyhurst include goaltender Colon Deaugustine and forward Taylor Best. Incoming Phantom forward Dalton Hunter is also committed to Mercyhurst following the 2017-2018 hockey season.

The Phantoms are currently in the process of interviewing candidates and hiring a new assistant coach.