Well, it seems like it's been forever since I posted anything other than the podcasts. Since the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and the subsequent shutdown of the USHL season, as well as the disruption of pretty much everything everywhere, we haven't had a lot of information other than obligatory press releases. With half a month to go until players are supposed to report, here is what I have.

Let's start off with some departures in the bench and hockey ops staff. The first was assistant coach and scouting director Nick Peruzzi, who has taken his services to the Lincoln Stars. Nick left in April, not long after the season was cancelled. More recently, equipment manager Michael Bingham relocated to the Tri-City Storm. Neither departure was announced by the Phantoms and there has been no word on replacements.

Another recent development that doesn't directly affect the Phantoms, but I believe will factor heavily into any plans to start the season is the devastating derecho that swept through Iowa. In addition to unfathomable destruction to homes, businesses, and farmland, the storm heavily damaged two USHL arenas. The Des Moines Buccaneers barn's roof was lost in the winds, as well as probably significant water damage from the rain. Things are worse in Cedar Rapids where the RoughRiders home ice, ImOn Ice Arena, had part of the building collapse. They are waiting on engineers to even start assessing the damage. All of that is still secondary to the still ongoing disaster, and I would like the people of Iowa to know that they are in our thoughts as they begin the slow recovery process.

The first USA Hockey protected lists for the 2016-2017 campaign are now public. The up-to 30 player list for the Phantoms is only at 22 players for now and we're likely not to get much in the way of updates until the Phantoms release their camp roster and/or when the August 19th deadline for final cuts to bring the list down to 23. That 23 man mark is actually 1 more than the 22 players actually on the list. Don't worry, most other teams don't protect a full 30 player list, as of now Sioux City only shows 7 players protected.

What's surprising is a couple players that aren't on the list. Ty Farmer and Eric Esposito were both cited as players returning from last season and were both in tryout camp. I'm not counting them off the roster yet but I do find this curious. Also curious is that we only list 2 overage (1996 born players) and no import players, both of which we're allowed 4 on the roster. 

I've copied the list as of this morning here and updated the roster page. As any updates come in, I'll keep posting them here. Hopefully, the Phantoms will release their camp roster soon.

Edit 1: Full camp roster is here.
Edit 2: I updated the table with the addition of Ty Farmer, Eric Esposito and Coale Norris from the USA Hockey protected lists. The USHL Protected/affiliate list had Farmer and Esposito on the affiliate list. 

While it's still too early to have a lot of updates on the roster, I do have some news on that front. The first item is an early trade with the Phantoms acquiring Austin Pooley from the Fargo Force in exchange for a conditional 2017 Phase 2 (Entry) Draft pick. Pooley started his USHL career with the Omaha Lancers in 13-14 before spending the last 2 seasons in Fargo. The 6'1" 200lbs center is a defensive minded forward capable of making a big impact on the penalty kill. He's a Dublin, Ohio native who spent a couple seasons in the Ohio Blue Jackets youth hockey system and committed to Ohio State University. Fans should know of my affinity for the players coming out of the Columbus area so I was happy to see Austin at the tryout camp and making the All-Star roster there. However, the primary reason Fargo traded him was a lack of spots for an overage player as teams are only allowed to roster 4 players with a 1996 birth year and there is no guarantee that he'll make one of those 4 spots. I counted 7 players with a 96 birth year in the tryout all star game.

The second roster item is not such good news. German Poddubnyi, the Phantoms 1st pick in the 2016 Phase 2 Draft and one of the standout offensive forwards from tryout camps might be heading to the OHL. Poddubnyi was selected by the Erie Otters in the 1st round of the 2016 CHL Import Draft. While the USHL may have gained a lot of ground on the Canadian major junior leagues in terms of talent and scouting opportunities, the OHL is still considered to be the top junior league in the world. Poddubnyi does not appear to be perusing a NCAA future and NCAA eligibility is a primary draw for the USHL over the major junior leagues. Poddubnyi has been compared a lot to Max Letunov, a tall and lanky Russian forward with excellent vision and soft hands. He's been very complimentary of the Phantoms organization and hasn't announced signing with Erie but it will be a tall order to convince him that the Phantoms will be a better move for his draft stock.

Also, the Youngstown Phantoms 2016-2017 Schedule is out. Expect some changes at some point as times and dates get juggled to accommodate things like concerts, etc.