Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Berkley's Cloutier makes college choice

The Mahoning Valley Phantoms have announced that forward Dustin Cloutier has accepted a scholarship to play Division I hockey at Bentley College this coming fall.

In 34 games this season, Cloutier leads the Phantoms in scoring with 50 points, ranking him ninth in the NAHL.

Cloutier, who plans to study business at Bentley, said, "I wanted to be in a situation where I can jump right in and make an impact. The players are great and I look forward to joining them next season."

Cloutier's eight game-winning goals leads the league and his five shorthanded goals rank second. His 27 total goals are tied for second in the NAHL. Cloutier is averaging 1.47 points per game, good for third, and has 36 even-strength points, which places him fifth.

Cloutier is the fifth current Phantom to commit to an NCAA Division I program for the upcoming season. He joins goaltender Ryan Zapolski (Mercyhurst), left wing Chris Fairbanks (Alabama-Huntsville), right wing Nathan Longpre (Robert Morris) and right wing Alden Hirschfeld (Miami).

Cloutier said he has improved certain parts of his game and continues to work on other skills in preparation for the college game.

"My confidence really came around this season and I stopped worrying about making mistakes," Cloutier said. "That allowed me to work on my skating, especially away from the puck. I still want to improve my skating and my play in the defensive zone."

Cloutier is the son of Greg and Bonni Cloutier of Berkley. Greg played college hockey at Western Michigan University.

"My parents and coaches were a very big help in putting myself in a position to make this decision," Cloutier said.

Phantoms coach Bob Mainhardt said it was a matter of finding the right fit for Cloutier.

"Dustin has been patient in his approach and it is nice to see it pay off for him," he said.

"We educate the players that when you work hard, scouts notice," Mainhardt said. "With that, came the confidence and comfort in Dustin?s game and surroundings. Now he's realizing the benefits of hard work."

Cloutier becomes the fifth Phantom headed to Bentley. He will join current sophomore center Anthony Canzoneri, sophomore defenseman Casey Russell, freshman left wing Marc Menzione and freshman defenseman Mark Zarbo.

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