March 18, 2013 by conteconfidential
When Anthony Noreen was named the head coach of the Youngstown Phantoms in August 2011, the first person he called was Austin Cangelosi.
“Before I called my parents, before I called anybody else, I called him,” Noreen said. “I wanted to make sure we were going to get him to Youngstown because I knew he would be a program changer, and that’s exactly what he’s been for us.”
Back then, Cangelosi was a rising junior at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Gill, Mass. The Phantoms had drafted him the year before because they were impressed with his high-end speed and competitive nature, even though those attributes came in a pint-sized package.
Youngstown was going into its third season in the United States Hockey League, having spent the previous two mired in the basement of the Eastern Conference.
In Cangelosi’s first season last year, the Phantoms made it to the Clark Cup playoffs for the first time. And there, in the first round against USHL powerhouse Cedar Rapids, the rookie dynamo made headlines.
In overtime of game one, Cangelosi found himself on the rush and chipped the puck over defenseman John Gilmour’s head. After darting around Gilmour, he recollected the puck and deftly pushed it past the goalie on his backhand.
“I just whacked it, and it went in,” Cangelosi said, with a laugh.
The once-in-a-lifetime goal was featured on ESPN, CBS and more. Its YouTube video is at nearly 700,000 hits. And, it lifted Youngstown to its first playoff win in program history.
“There couldn’t have been a guy who deserved that goal more,” Noreen said. “He’s known for the goal scoring, but I think that’s just what the outside sees. There’s so much more to him and so much more that makes him a program changer than the goals he scores.”
In his last seven games, Austin Cangelosi has six goals and seven assists (photo credit: Robert Bindler/Youngstown Phantoms)
This year, Cangelosi leads Youngstown with 53 points (17 goals and 36 assists). The co-captain plays in every situation and is just as likely to make a key block on defense as score a highlight-reel goal or thread the puck through traffic to a teammate.
The 5-foot-7 center likened himself to former Boston College and current Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta.
“For me, my best quality is my speed,” Cangelosi said. “So people will compare me with Gionta.”
“His skating and his competitive nature is really where his whole game stems from,” Noreen added. “No matter what the size is, guys like Austin, guys like Brian Gionta, they compete so hard that their skill level is going to come through and shine above those guys who are even a little bigger than them.”
Noreen also compared Cangelosi to BC standout Johnny Gaudreau, who he watched lead the Dubuque Fighting Saints to a Clark Cup Championship in 2011.
“Austin has a little bit more power in his game, and Johnny has a little bit more finesse,” Noreen said. “But their dynamic ability and explosiveness in skating with the puck is pretty similar”
Last year, Cangelosi totaled 59 points (29 goals and 30 assists) in 53 games. He finished tied for 10th in the USHL in scoring and was named to the All-Rookie Team. Lethal on the penalty kill, he set a record in the Tier 1 era of the USHL with eight shorthanded goals.
When asked if he’s more of a sniper or setup man, Cangelosi paused and then chuckled.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Some years, I’ll score goals, but it seems like this year I’m more of a setup guy.”
During his team’s recent three-game road trip, Austin Cangelosi tallied three goals and four assists, helping Youngstown win all three games and move to within four points of third place in the conference. He was named the USHL’s Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts. (photo credit: Robert Bindler/Youngstown Phantoms)
As Noreen said, there’s far more to Cangelosi than his goal scoring. He’s an honors student at Ursuline High School. He’s heavily involved in service through the Phantoms organization. And he’s emerged as a leader in the locker room this year.
“I’m more of a quiet leader,” Cangelosi said. “I try to lead by example. I’m not really vocal in the locker room or anything like that.”
With only 12 regular season games and the playoffs remaining in his USHL career, Cangelosi is starting to look towards coming to the Heights in the fall. For the Estero, Fla. native, committing to BC was the obvious choice, both athletically and academically.
“I’m not one of the biggest guys out there,” Cangelosi said. “They’re notorious for having little guys in there, and I felt like I just fit the system.”
After he watched Cangelosi play a pivotal role in Youngstown’s turnaround, Noreen is confident that he will be a difference maker at BC.
“He’s exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Noreen said. “He’s our captain; he’s our leading scorer; he plays every situation. But the way he handles himself with character and integrity outshines the way he plays.”
“He’s the type of kid that you can build a program around no matter what level because he’s going to do everything the right way.”
By Jen Dobias