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By Phantoms Staff 09/16/2021, 3:00pm EDT

YOUNGSTOWN, OH – The Youngstown Phantoms announced today the hiring of Rich Brande as the Director of Player Personnel. As the Director of Player Personnel, Brande will primarily responsible for scouting and networking on the East Coast while also working with Director of Scouting Tim Parkos, President of Hockey Operations, Keith Primeau, and Co-GM’s Ryan Kosecki and Jason Deskins on player personnel.


Phantoms Co-GM, Ryan Kosecki stated “We are excited to welcome Rich to the Phantoms Phamily.  He brings vast relationships in the prep market on the East Coast to our program.  Rich knows talent, character, and potential and we are thrilled to have him work with Tim Parkos and our scouting staff in Youngstown.”


Brande resides outside of Boston, and is currently the Director of Admission at Hillside School in Marlborough, MA.  Rich brings over 25 years of experience in the prep-school, sports, and education industries.  Following his prep career at South Kent and collegiate career at the University of Connecticut, Rich played in the minor professional ranks before embarking on his coaching and player development career which continues today. Over the last 3 decades he has coached at the prep-school, DI and DIII collegiate levels, including coaching Phantoms Co-GM Ryan Kosecki at South Kent in 1995. 


His coaching resume includes starting the women’s hockey program at the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, New York and being the assistant coach/recruiting director for the women’s ice hockey team at the University of New Hampshire (UNH).  In 2003 after coaching at UNH, Rich returned to the South Kent School where he oversaw the ice hockey program and led the transition and development of the South Kent Selects Hockey Academy.  Seen as a deeply innovative program at its inception in 2010, the Selects Hockey Academy has produced 17 NHL draft picks and over 40 NCAA Division 1 players.  Rich has also done extensive consulting work with sports agencies and coaches from around the world, helping place student - athletes at prep schools and NCAA programs. 


On Brande’s addition, Phantoms Director of Scouting Tim Parkos states “I’m excited to work with Rich.  He has deep connections to the east coast which is a valued territory for our program.  Rich will provide great insight into the prep, high school and Tier 1 scene in the greater Boston area and beyond.  He is a fabulous addition to our staff.  I can’t wait to get started.”


By Phantoms Staff 08/07/2021, 4:00pm EDT

YOUNGSTOWN, OH- The Youngstown Phantoms have hired Brandon Gotkin as their Assistant Coach.  Brandon comes to the Phantoms from the Maryland Black Bears of the NAHL, who are an affiliate of Black Bear Sports Group.  Brandon spent the past three seasons with the Black Bears under the mentorship of Head Coach and GM, Clint Mylymok.  In his time in Maryland, the team made considerable strides leading up to their first NAHL Eastern Conference playoff appearance and first round win vs the Johnstown Tomahawks.  Brandon has been with Maryland since their inception and was an integral piece of their team's success on and off the ice.    


Brandon states "I am beyond excited and humbled for this great opportunity.  I have always respected the long-standing tradition of the Youngstown Phantoms organization.  I'd like to thank Mr. Zoldan and Mr. Gunty for providing such a wonderful opportunity for my development as a coach and mentor to our players.  I'd also like to thank Andrew Goldman for his assistance through this process.  I am a big believer that winning is a byproduct of development and the daily process.  I am ecstatic to create such an environment for our players to thrive in."


Maryland Black Bears Head Coach and General Manager, Clint Mylymok commented "Firstly, congratulations to Brandon on his well-deserved opportunity in Youngstown.  He is a talented and passionate coach.  More importantly, he is a fantastic human being who makes coming to the rink enjoyable.  We wish Brandon, and his wife, Marley, all the best in their new endeavor".  


Youngstown’s Co-GM's, Jason Deskins and Ryan Kosecki state "we are thrilled to have Brandon with us in Youngstown.  Brandon is a young, smart hockey mind that has a passion for helping players grow on and off the ice.  He comes to Youngstown well-versed from his time with Clint in Maryland.  As an organization, we pride ourselves in developing our players and coaches so they are prepared for the next steps of their journey and Brandon is a prime example of that.  We want to thank Clint Mylymok and our affiliate, the Maryland Black Bears, for their investment in Brandon's personal development as a coach.  He played an important role in this process and we are thankful for his support.  This hire completes our bench staff and we are eager to see the process begin with our players in Youngstown".  


Finally, from Phantoms Head Coach, Brad Patterson "We are extremely pleased to add Brandon to our staff.  I have had the pleasure of working with him in various settings over the past couple of years and I know he will be a tremendous asset to our players, staff, and community.  His passion and energy for the game are contagious and shows in the players he coaches".  


By Phantoms Staff 08/06/2021, 2:00pm EDT


YOUNGSTOWN, OH – The Youngstown Phantoms have acquired forward Justin Varner and a 6th round phase II draft pick in the 2022 USHL draft in exchange for a 2022 3rd round draft pick and a 2023 4th round draft pick.

Varner, a 6’0” 180 winger, hails from Shelby Township, MI spent last season with the HoneyBaked Hockey Club Midget Minor program.  In 35 games played he scored 21 goals and added 27 assists for 48 points, good for 2nd on his team. 

We are ecstatic to acquire a player of Justin’s ability.  He is great in all 3 zones and can really skate.  He brings a ton of hockey intelligence and makes the players around him better. Justin is a great player, but more importantly a great teammate and person and we look forward to him being in Youngstown” stated Co-General Manager, Jason Deskins.

Co-GM Ryan Kosecki added “Justin brings a versatile skill set to Youngstown.  He is big, smart, and skilled, the complete package.  He is great in his own end and is a fantastic kid”. 

Over the last two seasons, Justin has amassed an astounding 63 goals and 95 assists for 158 points in only 98 games played.  Also, in 2018-2019 his Little Caesars Bantam Major team won the USA Hockey Youth 14 and Under National Championship where Justin helped the team by scoring 4 goals and adding 3 assists for 7 points. 

“We are excited to add a player like Justin to Youngstown. Justin is the type of player we want on the ice and the type of character individual representing us off the ice. We look forward to welcoming him to Youngstown” -President of Hockey Operations Keith Primeau

"Justin checks all of the boxes that we are looking for here in Youngstown.  As a coach he is exactly what you want, as his versatility and skill set compliment all those around him." -Head Coach Brad Patterson

YOUNGSTOWN, OH – The Youngstown Phantoms have acquired forward Evan Werner, defenseman Chase Pietila, and a 5th round phase II draft pick in the 2022 USHL draft in exchange for forwards Jack Larrigan, Mason Marcellus, and Jack Silich.

Werner, who hails from Dallas, spent last season with the New Jersey Titans of the NAHL. In 40 games played he scored 21 goals and added 15 assists for 36 points, good for 3rd on the team. “We are ecstatic to acquire a player of Evan’s caliber. He has a great offensive feel for the game and competes every single shift. He brings an energy and urgency to our team that is contagious, and we look forward to watching him develop in Youngstown” stated Co-General Manager, Ryan Kosecki.

Also acquired in the deal, Chase Pietila will be an invaluable asset on the backend. Chase is from Howell, MI and spent last season with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. A former “tender” to the Stars, Chase racked up 48 games played while adding 3 assists as a 16-year-old in the hardnosed Western Conference. He was also previously invited to the USA Hockey National Team Development Program training camp in 2020.

“Chase is an intelligent, competitive, and rangy defenseman that makes plays with his stick and his brain. He skates very well and is responsible defensively. We feel that he has much more to give from an offensive standpoint and expect him to take huge strides this season in Youngstown. He can be an impact player every night in this league, and we are happy he is a Phantom. Chase is also a character human being, a great leader, and an exceptional teammate. We are elated that he will be part of our Youngstown community and our hockey club."
-Jason Deskins, Co-General Manager

"With the addition of Chase and Evan we feel we have added some important pieces to our roster moving forward.  Both are exceptional talents individually l, but what truly excites me is that they both have that “exponential” factor.  By that I mean - they make their teammates better though hockey IQ, character, and ability.  We look forward to seeing them in a few weeks.”

-Head Coach Brad Patterson

YOUNGSTOWN, OH- The Youngstown Phantoms (the “Phantoms”) of the United States Hockey League (“USHL”) and Black Bear Sports Group are pleased to announce the immediate hiring of Jason Deskins and Ryan Kosecki as Co-General Managers and Co-Vice Presidents of Hockey Operations for the Phantoms.

Jason joins the Phantoms from his role as Assistant General Manager and Director of Scouting with the Omaha Lancers, also of the USHL. Ryan is currently Assistant General Manager and Scout for the Maryland Black Bears (the “Black Bears”) and will continue with the dual roles. Jason joins the Phantoms after helping lead the Lancers to a second-place overall finish in the Western Conference in the 2021-21 season. Jason previously was the Assistant GM and Head Scout of the Black Bears and is also the current head coach of the Honeybaked Midget Minor program in Detroit where he has led the team to a National Championship. He was also a very successful collegiate player at Miami University and completed his college career as Captain of the Redhawks. Jason will also help oversee scouting and player recruiting for the Black Bears.

Ryan is expanding his role after helping lead the Black Bears to their first ever playoff appearance, series win and appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. Previously, Ryan was an assistant coach with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL. Ryan also currently coaches the highly ranked Fox Motors 2005 team.

The Phantoms are also pleased to announce that they have installed a new, dedicated fitness and workout room in their home rink, the Covelli Center. This new training area represents the first full-time fitness facility in the history of the Phantoms; it will allow the players to enhance their development in the same building where they practice and play games. In addition, Black Bear Sports Group has hired former professional hockey coach, Oktay Armagan as skills coach for both Junior teams.

“We wish to thank Coach Patterson for the fine work he did the past two years while performing the role of Head Coach and General Manager,” said Keith Primeau, President of Hockey Operations for the Phantoms. “We are thrilled to have Jason and Ryan on board so Brad can return full-time to coaching where he has achieved great success over the years for the Phantoms.”

“Given our poor performance on the ice the past two years, particularly on the defensive end where we were consistently among the worst in the league, we felt we owed it to our players, fans and our whole organization to make meaningful changes to our staff, our recruiting team and our overall player development process,” said Murry N. Gunty, Co-Owner of the Phantoms and CEO of Black Bear Sports Group. “Jason and Ryan have achieved great success in both Junior and Youth Hockey and we believe that they will do great things for the Phantoms going forward.”

 “I am thrilled to join Black Bear Sports Group to lead the Youngstown Phantoms and assist with the Maryland Black Bears,” said new Co-GM, Jason Deskins. “The Phantoms have a rich history. The USHL is the finest Junior League in the country and I look forward to working with Keith, Andrew and Brad to lead them back to success on the ice.”

 “I am excited to build on our success with the Black Bears by expanding my hockey role inside of Black Bear Sports Group with the Phantoms,” said Co-GM, Ryan Kosecki. “Jason and I have known each other for a long-time and I look forward to working with him to help bring the Phantoms back to the top of the Eastern Conference.”

 “Jason and Ryan will be huge assets to both the Phantoms and all of the Junior Hockey operations at Black Bear Sports Group,” said Andrew Goldman, President of Junior Hockey for Black Bear and President of the Youngstown Phantoms. “They are proven winners with deep connections throughout the hockey world. They will be able to bring together the entire Black Bear Youth and Junior Hockey network to continue our ascension program and recruit elite players to join our Junior teams.”

Assistant coaches Jeff Potter and Justin DeMartino along with head scout Casey Kesserling have been relieved of their duties effective immediately.

For more information, call 330-747-PUCK or visit


PC: Dan Hickling