Murry Gunty’s Black Bear Sports Group buys into Youngstown Phantoms

By Tom Williams
The Vindicator
June 9, 2018

YOUNGSTOWN

One day after the team’s first alumnus raised the Stanley Cup in celebration, the Youngstown Phantoms have new co-owners.

After overseeing the Phantoms for the past four USHL seasons, Troy and Aafke Loney announced on Friday that they have sold their half of the franchise. Running the team day-to-day will be Keith Primeau, who, like Troy Loney, played 15 seasons in the NHL.

Primeau is the vice chairman of Black Bear Sports Group, Inc., which purchased the Loneys’ stake in the nine-year-old franchise. Bruce Zoldan, Phantoms Fireworks CEO, owns the other half of the team.

Black Bear is a Maryland-based sports and entertainment company that owns and operates ice arenas, junior hockey franchises and youth sports events. Its CEO, Murry Gunty, is the majority owner of SuperSeries AAA, a leading organizer or AAA youth hockey tournaments and tournament travel teams.

“I am excited to join the Phantoms and look forward to building on the team’s successes from last season,” Primeau said. “Having had two of my boys play in the USHL, I have a strong appreciation for just how competitive the league is and how it prepares players for NCAA and pro hockey.”

The announcement comes a day after the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup. Nathan Walker, a Phantom for four months in 2013, was on the Capitals roster and was given the Stanley Cup to raise over his head during the postgame on-ice celebration.

“We will always cherish the relationships we have built here in Youngstown, both personal and business,” said the Loneys, adding that they “are confident Youngstown will welcome the new ownership team just as we were welcomed into this awesome city.”

Zoldan created the Youngstown Phantoms in 2009 after folding the Mahoning Valley Phantoms of the North American Hockey League. The team became the primary sports tenant of the then-Chevrolet Centre (now Covelli Centre). The arena’s first two sports tenants — the Youngstown SteelHounds of the Central Hockey League and the Mahoning Valley Thunder of af2 — closed up shop in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

“We are thrilled to be part of the USHL family and to partner with Bruce Zoldan,” Gunty said. “No league sends more players to college hockey than the USHL and that will continue to be our top priority in Youngstown.”

In March 2014, Zoldan announced that the Loneys had purchased half of his franchise and would take over running the day-to-day operations of the junior hockey league team.

In their four seasons as co-owners, the Phantoms made the Clark Cup Playoffs three time. In the 2014-15 season, the Phantoms won the Anderson Cup for producing the best record in the regular season.

In 2015, Phantoms head coach Anthony Noreen left for the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. The Loneys replaced him with John Wroblewski who coached for one season, then left for the U.S. National Development Program.

Jason Koehler, the Phantoms’ assistant general manager, was promoted to GM when Noreen left.

In June 2016, Brad Patterson, a Phantoms assistant coach since 2010, replaced Wroblewski as head coach.

Last month, the Phantoms won the Eastern Conference and qualified for the Clark Cup Final for the first time. The Phantoms lost to the Fargo Force, 3-1.

“Our new partners bring experience and expertise to this organization that we expect will have a positive impact on the team and the community,” Zoldan said.

Murry Gunty and Printscape Imaging and Graphics Overhaul the Arena at Southpointe

Murry Gunty

March 9, 2018 – Murry Gunty and Printscape Imaging and Graphics are going all out to make sure the renovated Printscape Arena at Southpointe has a revitalized aesthetic for the family-focused facility.

Working with Murry and Black Bear Sports Group, Inc., Printscape was given a unique opportunity that they we’re not entirely familiar with. Printscape Imaging and Graphics in Pittsburgh typically outputs graphics and signage for other brands, but this new opportunity required massive prints of the shop’s own logo. Printscape obtained naming rights to the local ice and sports arena and used a plethora of their wide-format printers to create exterior and interior signage that would rebrand the entire facility with its new aesthetic. The installation took two weeks and included 3500 square feet of printed signage.  

Black Bear Sports Group and Affiliate Acquires Eighth Ice Arena

February 25, 2018 – “We’re very excited to be investing in another vibrant New Jersey hockey community,” BBSG CEO Murry Gunty said.  Black Bear Sports Group (BBSG), Inc. has acquired substantially all of the assets of the Jersey Shore Arena in Wall Township, NJ. The Arena houses three sheets of ice and serves youth hockey and other ice sports participants in Monmouth County. In addition, the Arena features a pro shop, laser tag, the Penalty Box Café, and a high performance training gym utilized by youth and high school hockey clubs.  Murry Gunty expressed “we are proud to be the home to over 15 local high school hockey programs and the Jersey Shore Wildcats youth hockey club. We look forward to modernizing the facility to provide our customers with a first-class ice rink in this proud hockey state.”

Since 2015, while also being CEO and founder of Blackstreet Capital Holdings, LLC, Gunty has been seeking investments in sports and entertainment facilities and youth sports events.  “Our arenas are clean and professionally managed, and offer world class recreational offerings. We focus on: ice arenas in metropolitan areas with compelling demographics; markets with a National Hockey League club presence; and arenas with an existing Tier I or Tier II youth hockey presence,” says Gunty.  BBSG currently owns and operates eight arenas across the United States with a total of 15 sheets of indoor ice and two indoor turf fields.

 

 

Printscape Signs Multi-Year Naming Rights Agreement

Nov. 2,2017 – Murry Gunty of Blackstreet Capital and Black Bear Sports Group, Inc. along with its operating partner Ice Rink Performance Group have announced a multi-year naming rights agreement to change the Iceoplex facility name to Printscape Arena at Southpointe. “I appreciate Printscape’s confidence in our facility and our operating team. We are also pleased to welcome Bubba Snider and his restaurant Bubba’s Gourmet Burghers and Beer. They will be a great asset to all of our constituents,” said Black Bear Founder and CEO Murry Gunty.

Printscape Imaging and Graphics owner John Dziak stated, “we are proud to partner with such a positive community asset. The Printscape Arena at Southpointe is all about providing the citizens of the South Hills a multitude of participatory sports programming as well as affordable family entertainment that promotes physical activity and healthy lifestyles without burdening taxpayers.”  Bubba’s Gourmet Burghers and Beer is owned and operated by local radio personality Bubba Snider who said,  “we are excited about the Printscape Arena at Southpointe location and plan to bring simply the best Burgher you have ever eaten to Southpointe. All of our food is 100% fresh and never frozen.”

The facility has also added new amenities and program offerings including the Southpointe Fitness Center, the Southpointe Chamber of Commerce Network Center and First Strides, a physical education  program for schools that provides an introduction to hockey including free use of head-to-toe hockey gear for all participants