PORTLAND, ME – The American Hockey League’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms announced Monday that they have hired Riley Armstrong as their assistant coach. Armstrong is stepping down after three years as head coach and deputy general manager of the Mariners, having been named the first head coach in franchise history in February 2018. The Mariners will announce their new head coach on Tuesday morning.
“I would like to thank Riley for all of the hard work and dedication he showed in getting the Mariners off the ground and leading us to two successful seasons,” said Danny Briere, Mariners president and governor. “His track record of taking players to the next level speaks for itself and his promotion to the AHL is well deserved. We look forward to seeing his career progress. “
Armstrong, 36, led the Mariners to a 69-58-5-2 record in the first two ECHL seasons and finished each year with winning records. In August 2019, between the first and second seasons, he was promoted to deputy general manager in addition to his duties as head coach. After missing the 2018-19 postseason by just two points, the 2019-20 team was on track for its first playoff appearance, but the pandemic shortened the regular season and canceled the postseason. The Mariners didn’t play in 2020-21, but Armstrong helped the team stay active in the community and hosted the Armstrong Skills Competition, which raised over $ 3,500 for local businesses and nonprofits.
During Armstrong’s tenure as the Mariners’ head coach, many players saw progress in their careers. Goalkeeper Connor LaCouvee received an AHL contract in the middle of his 2018/19 rookie season. Striker Ty Ronning moved from the limited AHL Ice Age to team leader on goals for the Hartford Wolf Pack in the 2020-21 season. Defender Sean Day also spent the 2020/21 season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL. Forwards Terrence Wallin, Alex Kile and Dillan Fox have all been drafted into the AHL despite having ECHL contracts. The same was true of defense attorney Zach Tolkinen.
“First of all, I would like to thank Paul Holmgren and Danny Briere for believing in me and for trusting me to be the Mariners’ first head coach,” said Armstrong. “I’d also like to thank the players for wanting to play in the city of Portland and for trusting the process. I also want to thank the fans for their support with a brand new franchise and now even bigger things in the future. My family and I met so many good people in town. “
Before Armstrong became head coach of the Mariners, he was Assistant Coach for the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL from 2016 to 2018. Immediately after a 12-year playing career in which he played on all three levels of North American professional hockey and also in Europe, he immersed himself in the coaching profession.
As a striker, Armstrong spent most of his playing career with the San Jose Sharks organization. In the 2008-09 season he appeared in two NHL games. Armstrong is very familiar with the AHL and has played 404 career games with the Cleveland Barons, Worcester Sharks, Abbotsford Heat, Grand Rapids Griffins, Binghamton Senators and Hamilton Bulldogs.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are the top daughter of the Philadelphia Flyers based in Allentown, PA. They were previously known as the “Philadelphia Phantoms” and “Glens Falls Phantoms” until they arrived in Allentown in 2014. They recently named Ian Laperriere the fourth head coach in franchise history.
Riley becomes the 43rd active AHL coach (12 head coaches, 31 assistant coaches) from the ECHL. There are currently 45 NHL coaches (four head coaches, 41 assistant coaches) with an ECHL background.
Equipment Manager Jake Rogers joins Armstrong in Lehigh Valley and becomes the new Assistant Equipment Manager for the Phantoms. Rogers has been the Mariners Equipment Manager since 2019 and was the assistant to Mark Riepe (now with the Hartford Wolf Pack) during the Mariners inaugural 2018-19 season. Rogers, 29, has a long history of working with Portland’s professional sports teams. He was originally a bat boy and clubhouse attendant for the Portland Sea Dogs between 2008-2010. He became involved in Portland Pro Hockey while serving as a locker room attendant for the Portland Pirates during the 2009-10 season. The Mariners have also filled Rogers’ position.
The Mariners announced their new coaching staff on Tuesday morning.
The Mariners are now proud partners of the Boston Bruins, kicking off their 2021-22 season, presented by Hannaford To Go on October 22nd, with the home opener against the Worcester Railers, sponsored by Skowhegan Savings.
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