Bettens playing big role for Phantoms | News, Sports, Jobs


Staff photo / Brian Yauger Youngstown Phantoms forward Kyle Bettens goes on the ice during Youngstown’s SteelHounds night. Bettens has been crucial for the Phantoms this year, scoring 16 goals and dishing out 17 assists.

The Youngstown Phantoms brought many new faces this season who have made their mark throughout the year.

One name who joined the fight that has definitely had a positive impact is right winger Kyle Bettens.

The 20-year-old from Winnipeg, Canada, was signed just before the start of the season and has been one of the team’s key performers on the ice. Bettens is the Phantoms’ fourth-best scorer with 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 53 games so far.

“We wanted to fill (the role of) a bigger bodied power forward who can score and be a workhorse and he gave us all of that.” That’s what Phantoms coach Brad Patterson said. “[He’s]brought consistency throughout the year, he’s a big physique who can skate extremely well, has good offensive instincts, has played junior hockey in the past and at different venues and is a guy that you lean on a lot can handle situations and play tough minutes.”

This playing style is exactly the type that Bettens models his game after and enjoys watching. Players who fit the mold of a modern NHL power forward.

“I really like guys like (Buffalo Sabers forward) Alex Tuch and (Washington Capitals forward) Tom Wilson and some more experienced guys like Roope Hintz at Dallas.” said Bettens. “Just bigger guys who use their speed and get in there, have that physical, big body and then they can control a game, make games and obviously have a goal-scoring ability. So I kind of look up to these guys.”

Bettens has been compared by the Phantoms to former Blue Jackets winger, now Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson for his rough but skilled playing style.

Patterson also offered another comparison, saying Bettens’ game reminded him of former Phantoms captain Eric Esposito.

Like Esposito, Bettens was a veteran leader in the locker room as well as one of the team’s top performers on the ice.

“It was huge” Patterson said about the Bettens acquisition. “Looking back at the beginning of the year, a lot of places probably didn’t expect us to do so well and he’s a guy who definitely helped. At the beginning of the year we went through a bit of a rut and at one point he almost took the team and put us on his back and carried us through some tough games and showed a lot of guys who might have been new to the league. how hard you had to work in different situations.

“Getting through that, not just on the ice but off the ice throughout the year and having someone who’s gone to war before and been through ups and downs has been a huge, huge bonus to our club. ”

In recent years, Bettens has made a handful of stints including the Steinbach Pistons of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, Fargo, Omaha and Cedar Rapids of the USHL, though he never actually played for Cedar Rapids.

Of all his stints, he says Youngstown is his favorite so far.

“It was great,” said Bettens. “Every year you make new friends and new teammates and I’ve been lucky to have really good coaches and the core group we have here is really tight and everyone enjoys each other. It’s my last year (in junior class) and I’ve experienced a lot of things in my career, but I’ve definitely enjoyed this one. I would say, I would say most.”

After this season, Bettens will continue his education at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and join the hockey program. He says it’s an honor to be a Bulldog and looks forward to participating in a heritage program like Minnesota-Duluth.

But before that, Bettens still has one playoff run to face the Phantoms. He hopes to keep the team going for as long as possible.

“I think we just have to carry on as we have been,” said Bettens. “Obviously we had a weekend against Chicago where we split and we still had some of our best guys from the lineup. I think we can beat anyone in this league, but I think we just stick with it, and you know, just play a tough defense and just follow our systems.

“As a group we have to be super tight and focused in every game. Playoffs are a different beast. I know a lot of the younger guys might not have experienced it, so as an older guy you just have to have that presence and let them know it’s going to be a fight, but I believe in our group and what we have, I believe we do can go very far.”

The Phantoms end the regular season this weekend with a home-and-home game against the U.S. National Team Development Program U-17s. On Friday, both teams play in Ann Arbor, Michigan before returning to Youngstown to wrap up the regular season at the Covelli Center.

byauger@tribtoday.com



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