YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A little more than four years after playing his final game in a Mahoning Valley Phantoms uniform, Brandon Saad has hoisted sport’s ultimate prize – the Stanley Cup. Saad became the first player in Phantoms franchise history to win the Stanley Cup when his Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 Monday night, taking the final series 4-2. Saad, who played with the Mahoning Valley Phantoms of the North American Hockey League in 2008-09, was the only rookie on the Blackhawks roster to play in all 23 postseason games, registering one goal, five assists and six points to cap off a stellar first NHL season. The 20-year-old from Gibsonia, Pa., recorded 10-17-27 and a plus-17 rating in 46 regular season games and was nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy awarded to the league’s top rookie.
“This is a very proud day for both Brandon and for our franchise,” Phantoms owner Bruce J. Zoldan said. “We always knew Brandon was a special player when he was here and that he would go on to do great things. It was never a question of ‘if,’ only ‘when.’ But to see how high he’s risen – Stanley Cup champion, Rookie of the Year candidate – in such a short time, it’s a tribute to the work Brandon put in to better himself while he was here in Youngstown and every subsequent stop along the way to the NHL.
“This is what Youngstown Phantoms hockey is all about. You’ve got the chance to see these phenomenally talented players blossom before your eyes, right here in Youngstown.”
Saad recorded 29-18-47 in 47 games played with the Phantoms in 2008-09 and was named NAHL Rookie of the Year prior to accepting an invitation to join the United States National Team Development Program the following season. He went on to play two seasons with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League and was selected by the Blackhawks in the second round (43rd overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Former Phantoms defenseman Scott Mayfield was also taken in the 2011 draft, selected nine picks earlier (34th overall) by the New York Islanders.
The 2013 NHL Entry Draft will be held this Sunday, June 30, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., home of the New Jersey Devils. Phantoms goaltender Sean Romeo, forward Luke Stork and affiliate forward Kiefer Sherwood are among the first-year draft eligible players with an opportunity to be selected.
Courtesy: Youngstown Phantoms