Former NHL player becomes Phantoms co-owner

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Troy Loney and his wife Aafke were announced as members of the Youngstown Phantoms’ ownership and operational group at a press conference Thursday.

The two will be partnering with Phantoms Owner and CEO Bruce Zoldan.

“I give Bruce a lot of credit. He wanted to keep hockey in the Youngstown area. That was his primary option that he wanted to do and I’m happy to be here to help him,” Loney said.

Zoldan was out of town Thursday, but released a statement saying that game attendance was down. They’re averaging 1,100 to 1,400 people per game. He said the goal with Loney is to average 2,500 and grow from there.

Under the agreement, which is dependent upon league review and approval, Loney will oversee the day-to-day business and hockey operations of the Youngstown Phantoms.

“I am excited for the opportunity to build upon the foundation that the Phantoms have laid in the Steel Valley, Western Pennsylvania, and the USHL as a whole,” Loney said in a news release. “I have seen firsthand how the USHL has become a breeding ground for Division I talent, as well as the NHL. I continue to be enthused with the development of the league and its players, and I can’t wait to get started in Youngstown.”

“This is a tremendous move for the Phantoms and for the Youngstown community,” Zoldan said in an emailed statement. “The credibility he brings is immense, and his interest in this team further shows that the USHL is recognized by the NHL and the NCAA as the most talented developmental system in the nation.”

Loney possesses both NHL experience and connections to the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins’ front office. A veteran of over 600 NHL games, Loney was drafted by the Penguins in 1982 and spent 10  seasons with the club, winning the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992. He was also named the first-ever captain of the expansion Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for the 1993-94 season.

“This is a great day for hockey in Youngstown,” said David Morehouse, CEO and President of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Troy was a valuable player for the Penguins, contributing to two Stanley Cup championships and many exciting moments on the ice, but he also forged a very successful post-hockey career as a corporate executive in the Pittsburgh area. The Phantoms organization and their fans will benefit from his considerable experience in both the hockey and business worlds. We are big fans of the Phantoms, and we look forward to great things from Troy and his team.”

Since retiring from the NHL in 1995, Loney entered the business world, and for the past 15 years, has been a senior executive at various levels. Most recently, he served as the president of a division in a Fortune 250 company. He has continued to make his home in the Pittsburgh area since retirement from his playing career.

“I had no thoughts really of doing this. This is not what I was looking to do. It just all kind of fell into place,” Loney said.

“Having someone of Troy’s caliber in our team’s management is a great move for this organization,” said Phantoms coach Anthony Noreen. “This helps solidify the Phantoms as a top USHL franchise, as well as adds to the long-term stability of our team in the Youngstown community.”

Noreen said he thinks the Phantoms have taken some great strides in the past few years to grow the team into an elite hockey program. But he acknowledged there is more work to be done.

“I think we need to keep attracting the best players from around the country and around the world to come here to Youngstown,” Noreen said.

Adding to Loney’s ties to the Youngstown community, his son, Ty, spent two seasons playing for the Phantoms before moving on to the University of Denver. As a Phantom, Ty Loney registered 46 points in 71 games played. Currently in his junior season with the Pioneers, he has 65 points in 111 career games at the Division I level.

“When my son, Ty, played in Youngstown a few years ago, I got a firsthand view of the city and the Phantoms organization,” continued Loney. “I look at coming here as an opportunity to invest not only in the Youngstown community, but also in the Phantoms organization.”

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