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Esmark Stars in the News

ESMARK STARS 18U FORWARD COMMITS TO NCDC JR A CLUB

Pittsburgh, PA - The Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey Club of the Tier I Hockey Federation (THF) have announced that Esmark Stars 18U AAA Hockey forward Jack Ammons has signed a United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) tender agreement with the Railers Jr Hockey Club.

The 18-year-old forward from Raleigh, NC, recorded 8 points (2 goals and 6 assists), in 23 THF regular season games and 4 THF Playoff Games in helping lead the U18 Stars to the League's 18U AAA Championship game.

Overall, the 5'11" / 175 lbs. forward tallied 29 points (7 goals, 22 assists), including one power play goal, in 68 games played for the Star’s U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

The 2023-24 season was Ammon’s first season with the AAA Stars program.

"Jack is a solid get for the Railers,” said Stars 18U head coach Dave Kosick. "His skill set will allow him to check many boxes in terms of finding and securing a role and place at the junior level. Jack’s desire to succeed will serve him well as he makes the jump to the next level.”

Ammons becomes the second Star’s player to sign a tender with a NCDC Club for the ’24-’25 season, joining teammate Jackson Furman, who previously signed with the Northern Cyclones.

Overall, Ammons becomes the thirteenth player from the 2023-24 Esmark Stars AAA Program to sign a tender with a Junior A Club for the 2024-25 season. He joins 18U teammates Nathan Burlando (Minnesota Mallards), Jackson Furman (Minnesota Mallards), Timur Naletov (Danbury Hat Tricks), Aiden Petroff (New Hampshire Mountain Kings), Max Rutkowski (Oklahoma Warriors), Jacob Stock (Watertown Shamrocks), Alex Thomas (Colorado Grit), Mark Trischler (Kenai River Brown Bears), and Mykyta Yalovyi (Lone Star Brahmas), as well as 16U Esmark forwards Emmet McClaine and Vitaliy Ulianov, who both signed with the Johnstown Tomahawks, and 16U defenseman Talon Del Signore, who signed with the Minnesota Mallards, who all signed tender agreements with North American Hockey League (NAHL) Junior A Clubs for the upcoming season. Additionally, teammate Hudson Howard signed a tender agreement with the New Jersey 87s of the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EHL).

The Railers Junior Hockey Club will join the NCDC’s eight-team New England Division, along with the Boston Junior Rangers (MA), Islanders Hockey Club (MA), Northern Cyclones (NH), Seacoast Spartans (NH), South Shore Kings (MA), Thunder Hockey Club (NH), Utica Jr Comets (NY), and Wilkes Barre Scranton Knights (PA).

The 2024-25 season will be the Railer’s inaugural season in the NCDC. The Railers will play in the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center in Worcester, MA, and will be led by Head Coach Sean Bertoni.

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Moore Helps Team USA to ISBHF Bronze Medal

By DLG 07/07/2024, 10:30pm EDT

U16 Star's Forward Stars in Slovakia

Zilina, Slovakia - The Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey program extends congratulations to U16 Stars forward Joey Moore III on helping Team USA win the bronze medal at the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation (ISBHF) Ball Hockey World Champions in Zilina, Slovakia.

Moore scored the game winning goal, on a penalty shot, in a 3-1 win over Team Czechia Red to secure the bronze medal for Team USA.

Moore collected five points (3G, 2A) in five round-robin and the Bronze Medal Game at the Championships.

JACKSON FURMAN TENDERS WITH MINNESOTA MALLARDS

By DLG 06/30/2024, 8:30pm EDT

18U FORWARD COMMITS TO NAHL CLUB

Pittsburgh, PA - The Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey Club of the T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League have announced that Esmark Stars 18U AAA Hockey forward Jackson Furman has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Minnesota Mallards.

The 18-year-old forward from Westerville, OH, recorded seven points (3 goals and 4 assists), in 12 T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and five Dixon Cup Playoff Games in helping lead the U18 Stars to the League's Regular Season Crown and Dixon Cup Playoff Championships.

Overall, the 5'11" / 170 lbs. forward tallied 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists), including one power play goal and two game-winning goals, in 68 games played for Esmark's U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

The 2023-24 season was Furman’s second season with the Esmark Stars program.

During the 2022-23 season, Furman recorded 15 points (10 goals and 5 assists), in 12 T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and 4 Dixon Cup Playoff Games.

Overall during the ’22-’23 campaign, Furman tallied 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists), including two power play goals, in 62 games played for Esmark's U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

"Jackson is a true Swiss Army knife,” said Stars 18U head coach Dave Kosick. "His skill set and on-ice compete level allowed us to use him in all settings … from special teams (penalty kill and power play) to end-of-game scenarios. He brings a tenacity and desire to succeed to each game and practice that will not allow him to be outworked. The combination of this drive and his skill set is what created this Junior opportunity and positions him for success at the next level."

In addition to his success on the ice, Furman was also selected as an All-State Lacrosse player in the state of Ohio last season.

Furman is one of 14 players from the 2023-24 Esmark Stars to sign a tender or come to an agreement with a Junior A club for the upcoming season, as he joins 18U teammates Nathan Burlando (Minnesota Mallards), Timur Naletov (Danbury Hat Tricks), Aiden Petroff (New Hampshire Mountain Kings), Max Rutkowski (Oklahoma Warriors), Jacob Stock (Watertown Shamrocks), Alex Thomas (Colorado Grit), Mark Trischler (Kenai River Brown Bears), and Mykyta Yalovyi (Lone Star Brahmas), as well as 16U Esmark forwards Emmet McClaine and Vitaliy Ulianov, who both signed with the Johnstown Tomahawks, and defenseman Talon Del Signore, who also signed with the Minnesota Mallards, who all signed tender agreements with NAHL teams; Hudson Howard, who signed a tender agreement with the New Jersey 87s in the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EHL); and Carmen D’Ambrosio who signed a player agreement with the Florida Eels of the USPHL, in committing to a junior team for the upcoming 2024-25 season.

The Mallards will join the NAHL's eight-team Central Division along with the Aberdeen Wings (SD), Austin Bruins (MN), Bismarck Bobcats (ND), Minot Minotauros (ND), North Iowa Bulls (IA), St. Cloud Norseman (MN) and Watertown Shamrocks (SD).

The 2024-25 season will be the inaugural season in the NAHL for the Mallards, along with their fellow Central Division opponent Watertown Shamrocks. The Mallards will play in the Forest Lake Sports Center in Forest Lake, MN, and are led by Head Coach Terry Watt.

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Stars Mourn the Passing of Frank Vickers

By DLG 06/28/2024, 11:45pm EDT

Father of Former Stars Player

Pittsburgh, PA - The Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey Organization and our member families extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Frank Vickers on his passing.

Frank was the father of former Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Pee Wee player Enzo Vickers.

Frank, who was born January 7, 1976 in Youngstown, OH, was the son of Frank Sinkovich and Karen Vickers, both of Youngstown.

Frank was a devoted loving husband, father and best friend to his wife and son. His kindness and compassion for others was immeasurable. Frank lived and breathed for his family. Frank (aka Coach) had a true passion for sports. He attended every game that his son was involved in. Frank enjoyed being a coach and mentor. The joy that his son Enzo gets from playing hockey, football and lacrosse filled Frank’s heart with love. The best name he was known for was “Dad.”

Frank and his son were the biggest Steelers and Michigan fans and they always looked forward to the new football season each year. The love they had for each other was truly amazing and their bond was evident to all.

Frank is survived by his wife, Shannon (Marciano) Vickers, and their son, Enzo Frank Vickers.

Family and friends are encouraged to offer prayers for the family and support via phone call, text, email or may visit the Book of Memories at www.rossifunerals.com.

ESMARK STARS 16U DEFENSEMAN COMMITS TO NAHL CLUB

Pittsburgh, PA - The Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey Club of the T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League have announced that Esmark Stars 16U AAA Hockey defenseman Talan Del Signore has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Minnesota Wilderness.

"Talan is an extremely gifted player,” said Star’s U16 head coach, Yuri Krivokhija. “His skill set at his age is off the charts.”

The 17-year-old defenseman from Trafford, PA, recorded 5 points (3 goals and 2 assists), in 12 T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League appearances.

Overall the 5'8" / 165 lbs. defenseman tallied 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists), including four power-play goals and one shorthanded goal, in 45 games played for the Star’s U16 AAA Midget Minor squad.

The 2023-24 season was Del Signore’s first season with the Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program.

“Talan has only truly begun to tap into his talent,” Krivokhija added. “It will be fun to see how he progresses.”

Del Signore becomes the 14th member of the 2023-2024 Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program to sign a tender or come to an agreement with a Junior A club for the upcoming season.

Del Signore joins 18U teammates Nathan Burlando (Minnesota Mallards), Timur Naletov (Danbury Hat Tricks), Aiden Petroff (New Hampshire Mountain Kings), Max Rutkowski (Oklahoma Warriors), Jacob Stock (Watertown Shamrocks), Alex Thomas (Colorado Grit), Mark Trischler (Kenai River Brown Bears), and Mykyta Yalovyi (Lone Star Brahmas), as well as 16U Esmark forwards Emmet McClaine and Vitaliy Ulianov, who both signed with the Johnstown Tomahawks, who all signed tender agreements with NAHL teams; Jackson Furman, who signed a tender agreement with the Northern Cyclones National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) in the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL); Hudson Howard, who signed a tender agreement with the New Jersey 87s in the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EHL); and Carmen D’Ambrosio who signed a player agreement with the Florida Eels of the USPHL, in committing to a junior team for the upcoming 2024-25 season.

The Wilderness play in the NAHL's eight-team Midwest Division along with the Anchorage Wolverines (AK), Chippewa Steel (WI), Fairbanks Ice Dogs (AK), Janesville Jets (WI), Kenai River Brown Bears (AK), Springfield Jr Blues (IL), and Wisconsin Windego.

The Wilderness play in the Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet, Minnesota, and are led by Head Coach David Boitz.

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JACOB STOCK TENDERS WITH WATERTOWN SHAMROCKS

By DLG 06/16/2024, 10:15pm EDT

ESMARK STARS 18U FORWARD COMMITS TO NAHL CLUB

Pittsburgh, PA - The Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey Club of the T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League have announced that Esmark Stars 18U AAA Hockey forward Jacob Stock has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Watertown Shamrocks.

"Jacob is one of those players with an instinct to be in the right place at the right time,” said Star’s U18 head coach, Dave Kosick.

“He is a crafty and gifted offensive player who can score goals … in a variety of situations … while also getting under the skin of and creating chaos for an opponent.”

The 18-year-old forward from Clairton, PA, recorded 16 points (6 goals and 10 assists), in 17 T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and five (5) Dixon Cup Playoff Games, including two (2) power-play goals, in helping lead the U18 Stars to the NAT1HL’s Regular Season and Playoff Championships.

Overall the 5'10" / 150 lbs. forward tallied 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists), including two power-play goals, in 68 games played for the Star’s U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

The 2023-24 season was Stock’s second season with the Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program.

During the 2022-23 season, Stock recorded 18 points (7 goals and 11 assists), in 20 NAT1HL regular season games for Esmark’s U16 squad.

Overall during the 2022-23 season, Stock tallied 57 points (31 goals, 26 assists), including one (1) power play goal and five (5) shorthanded goal, in 65 games played for Esmark's U16 AAA Midget Major squad.

“As this will be the Shamrocks inaugural season, Jacob has an opportunity from the beginning to establish a role with them,” Kosick added. “He is the style of player all teams are seeking … an agitator who can put up points.”

Stock becomes the 13th member of the 2023-2024 Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program to sign a tender or come to an agreement with a Junior A club for the upcoming season.

Stock joins 18U teammates Nathan Burlando (Minnesota Mallards), Mark Trischler (Kenai River Brown Bears), Aiden Petroff (New Hampshire Mountain Kings), Alex Thomas (Colorado Grit), Timur Naletov (Danbury Hat Tricks), Max Rutkowski (Oklahoma Warriors) and Mykyta Yalovyi (Lone Star Brahmas), as well as 16U Esmark forwards Emmet McClaine and Vitaliy Ulianov, who both signed with the Johnstown Tomahawks, who all signed tender agreements with NAHL teams; Jackson Furman, who signed a tender agreement with the Northern Cyclones National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) in the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL); Hudson Howard, who signed a tender agreement with the New Jersey 87s in the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EHL); and Carmen D’Ambrosio who signed a player agreement with the Florida Eels of the USPHL, in committing to a junior team for the upcoming 2024-25 season.

The Shamrocks will join the NAHL's eight-team Central Division along with the Aberdeen Wings (SD), Austin Bruins (MN), Bismarck Bobcats (ND), Minnesota Mallards, Minot Minotauros (ND), North Iowa Bulls (IA), St. Cloud Norseman (MN) and Watertown Shamrocks (SD).

The 2024-25 season will be the inaugural season in the NAHL for the Shamrocks, along with their fellow Central Division opponent Minnesota Mallards.

The Mallards will play in the new Prairie Lakes Ice Arena in Watertown, South Dakota, and are led by Head Coach Casey Kirley.

# # #

NATHAN BURLANDO TENDERS WITH MINNESOTA MALLARDS

By DLG 06/13/2024, 7:00pm EDT

ESMARK STARS 18U FORWARD COMMITS TO NAHL CLUB

Pittsburgh, PA - The Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey Club of the T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League have announced that Esmark Stars 18U AAA Hockey forward Nathan Burlando has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Minnesota Mallards.

"Nathan is a great addition for the Mallards,” said Star’s U18 head coach, Dave Kosick.

“He is a gifted player who can fill several roles. An outstanding face-off man who wins a majority of his face-offs; a gifted offensive player who is creative with the puck and scores goals; and an outstanding penalty killer, from face-off to reading an opponent’s power play and understanding how to disrupt it.”

The 18-year-old forward from Canonsburg, PA, recorded 7 points (3 goals and 4 assists), in 12 T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and 5 Dixon Cup Playoff Games, including one (1) powerplay goal and two (2) game winning goals, in helping lead the U18 Stars to the NAT1HL’s Regular Season and Playoff Championships.

Overall the 5'10" / 170 lbs. forward tallied 49 points (24 goals, 25 assists), including one power-play goal, in 65 games played for the Star’s U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

The 2023-24 season was Burlando’s fourth season with the Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program.

During the 2022-23 season, Burlando recorded 13 points (9 goals and 4 assists), in 11 T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games for Esmark’s U18 squad.

Overall during the 2022-23 season, Burlando tallied 44 points (23 goals, 21 assists), including five power play goals and one shorthanded goal, in 49 games played for Esmark's U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

During the 2021-22 season, Burlando recorded 28 points (17 goals and 11 assists), including two power play goals, in 30 NAPHL North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and Dixon Cup Playoff Games in helping lead Esmark’s U16 squad to the NAPHL’s Dixon Cup Championship.

Overall during the 2021-22 season, Burlando tallied 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists), including one power-play goal and two shorthanded goals, in 67 games played for Esmark's U16 AAA Midget Minor squad.

During the 2020-21 season, Burlando recorded 10 points (5 goals and 5 assists) in 17 NAPHL North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and Dixon Cup Playoff Games for Esmark’s U15 squad.

Overall during the 2020-21 season, Burlando tallied 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists), including five power-play goals and two shorthanded goals, in 65 games played for Esmark's U15 AAA Midget Minor squad.

“Joining a new franchise in the NAHL should afford Nathan a great chance to establish himself from the start of a new team,” Kosick added.

Burlando becomes the 12th member of the 2023-2024 Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program to sign a tender or come to an agreement with a Junior A club for the upcoming season.

Burlando joins 18U teammates Mark Trischler (Kenai River Brown Bears), Aiden Petroff (New Hampshire Mountain Kings), Alex Thomas (Colorado Grit), Timur Naletov (Danbury Hat Tricks), Max Rutkowski (Oklahoma Warriors) and Mykyta Yalovyi (Lone Star Brahmas), as well as 16U Esmark forwards Emmet McClaine and Vitaliy Ulianov, who both signed with the Johnstown Tomahawks, who all signed tender agreements with NAHL teams; Jackson Furman, who signed a tender agreement with the Northern Cyclones National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) in the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL); Hudson Howard, who signed a tender agreement with the New Jersey 87s in the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EHL); and Carmen D’Ambrosio who signed a player agreement with the Florida Eels of the USPHL, in committing to a junior team for the upcoming 2024-25 season.

The Mallards will join the NAHL's eight-team Central Division along with the Aberdeen Wings (SD), Austin Bruins (MN), Bismarck Bobcats (ND), Minot Minotauros (ND), North Iowa Bulls (IA), St. Cloud Norseman (MN) and Watertown Shamrocks (SD).

The 2024-25 season will be the inaugural season in the NAHL for the Mallards, along with their fellow Central Division opponent Watertown Shamrocks. The Mallards will play in the Forest Lake Sports Center in Forest Lake, MN, and are led by Head Coach Terry Watt.

# # #

CARMEN D'AMBROSIO SIGNS WITH USPHL'S EELS

By DLG 06/09/2024, 11:45pm EDT

18U FORWARD COMMITS TO USPHL JR A PREMIER CLUB

Pittsburgh, PA - The Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey Club of the Tier 1 Hockey Federation (T1HF) have announced that Stars 18U AAA Hockey forward Carmen D’Ambrosio has signed a United Stares Premier Hockey League (USPHL) agreement with the Florida Eels Premier Jr A squad.

"Carmen has developed a true knack for finding and creating offensive opportunities,” said Stars 18U head coach Dave Kosick. “He brings a great combination to the rink … mixing a blue-collar playing style, who believes in sweat equity and being a team-first player, with a drive to for finding the net.”

The 17-year-old forward from Wexford, PA, recorded 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists), in 23 THF regular season games and 4 THF Playoff Games in helping lead the U18 Stars to the THF League Playoff Championship game.

Overall the 5'11" / 165 lbs. forward tallied 15 points (8 goals, 7 assists), including two power play goals, in 56 games played for Esmark's U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

The 2023-24 season was D’Ambrosio’s first season with the Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program and 18U Midget Major squad.

D’Ambrosio becomes the 11th member of the 2023-2024 Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program to sign a tender with a Junior A club for the upcoming season.

D’Ambrosio joins 18U teammates Mark Trischler (Kenai River Brown Bears), Aiden Petroff (New Hampshire Mountain Kings), Alex Thomas (Colorado Grit), Timur Naletov (Danbury Hat Tricks), Max Rutkowski (Oklahoma Warriors) and Mykyta Yalovyi (Lone Star Brahmas), as well as 16U Esmark forwards Emmet McClaine and Vitaliy Ulianov, who both signed with the Johnstown Tomahawks, who all signed tender agreements with NAHL teams; Hunter Furman, who signed a tender agreement with the Northern Cyclones National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) in the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL); and Hudson Howard, who signed a tender agreement with the New Jersey 87s in the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EHL); in committing to a junior team for the upcoming 2024-25 season.

The Eels play in the USPHL's six-team Florida Premier Division along with the Florida Junior Blades, Atlanta Mad Hatters (GA), Bold City Battalion (FL), Tamp Bay Juniors, and Palm Beach Typhoon.

Overall, the USPHL has 72 clubs split into ten divisions.

The Eels call the Fort Myers Skatium in Fort Myers, FL, home and are led by Head Coach Frank Scarpaci III.

# # #

Beginning with 2024-25 Season

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club has announced that their Tier I program has rebranded as Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey, effective immediately, for the 2024-2025 season.

The Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey program, the oldest Tier I AAA program in the Mid-American District (founded in 1984 and continuously providing elite training and showcase opportunities for amateur hockey players since) and one of the oldest Tier I AAA programs under the USA Hockey umbrella, will be celebrating their 40th season during the 2024-2025 campaign.

General Manager Dave Kosick announced the rebranding and name change.

“We are excited for the next chapter of Stars Hockey,” Kosick said.

“In celebration of our 40th season of providing elite level training and instruction, we have traveled back to our roots and reintroduced our original name … Pittsburgh Stars,” Kosick continued.

As part of the rebranding the Stars have unveiled a new logo, will don new uniforms, and will update and revise all branding efforts, including their website, to the new Pittsburgh Stars AAA Hockey brand.

The Stars Program, which plays out of the Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington, PA, is a nationally recognized program, offering elite-level coaching.

Former Stars players have gone on to play hockey at every level, including the NHL, OHL, AHL, IHL, USHL, NAHL, NCDC, NCAA Div. I & III, and ACHA, Div. I & III.

For the 2024-25 season, the Pittsburgh Stars will be fielding seven Tier I AAA teams, including U18 Midget Major (2006-2007 birth-years), U16 Midget Minor (2008), U15 Only Midget (2009), U14 Bantam Major (2010), U13 Bantam Minor Red (2011), U13 Bantam Minor White (2011), and U12 Pee Wee Major (2012).

“We have enjoyed our relationship with Esmark and thank them for their support and recognition of our efforts for the past decade,” Kosick offered. “The new branding effort will allow our program to better identify with our home city, Pittsburgh, and celebrate our history and ties to the area.”

The Stars are proud members of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAT1HL) and the Tier 1 Hockey Federation (T1HF).

# # #

Post Season Awards for Stars

By DLG 05/10/2024, 8:30pm EDT

Kosick, Thomas and Kemp Honored

Frisco, TX - The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) T1ER League has to announce All-T1ER teams and coaches of the year from the 2023-2024 Regular Season. All-T1ER 1st Teams and 2nd Teams were selected from the 16U and 18U divisions based upon performance throughout the 2023-2024 regular season and 2024 Dixon Cup Playoffs.

“Congratulations to all of our players, coaches, and teams on a successful 15th Season of T1ER hockey,” said Dennis Vickers, Director of Player Personnel and Director of the NAPHL. "The players and coaches on the All-T1ER Teams enjoyed spectacular seasons and should be proud of their accomplishments.  With the majority of these players having tenders signed to the NAHL, it will be exciting to continue to follow their development in the NAHL."

At the U18 level, Head Coach Dave Kosick was selected as the 18U T1ER Coach of the Year and forward Alex Thomas was named to the 18U All-T1ER 1st Team.

At the U16 level, defenseman Julian Kemp was named to the 16U All-T1ER 2nd Team.

Kosick guided the Stars Midget Major Squad to the NAT1HL Regular Season title as the 18U squad skated to an 11-1-0-0 regular season record, and to the league's Dixon Cup Playoff title, where his Midget Major squad captured the league's playoff championship with a perfect 5-0-0-0 record, capped off with a 4-1 win over CarShield AAA in the championship game.

Thomas enjoyed a solid NAT1HL season, helping lead the Stars to the Regular season and post season titles, as he posted 19 points (9 goals, 10 assists) in 12 regular season games, including 2 power play goals and 3 game-winning goals, and 4 points (all goals), including 2 power play goals, in 5 Dixon Cup Playoff games.

Kemp helped anchor the Star's U16 squads defensive corps as he posted 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) in 12 regular season games, including 1 power play goal, and 5 points (2G, 3A), including 2 power play goals, in 4 Dixon Cup Playoff games.

The NAPHL and it’s T1ER League were founded in 2009 and completed it’s 15th year with 2023-24 season.

The success of its teams on the national stage, as well as the success of T1ER players at the next levels of hockey, is further proof that the league is redefining exposure and has become the marquee place to play for elite level players, ages 13-18.

The T1ER League has enjoyed a record-breaking amount of advancement in recent seasons due to enjoying the opportunities provided by the Multi-Advancement Path to all levels of junior hockey.

In the last five years, no other USA Hockey Midget Tier I league has had more players tendered in the NAHL than the T1ER League.

Hepler Signs Pro Contract with Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Lebanon Valley College's Cole Hepler has signed a professional contract with the Huntsville Havoc and will report to Huntsville immediately. The Havoc are members of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
 
"We're very excited that Cole is getting this opportunity to play professional hockey," said Lebanon Valley's head men's ice hockey coach Don Parsons. "Cole is an asset in every aspect of the game, including in the locker room, and on and off the ice. I have no doubt in my mind that he'll do a tremendous job and be welcomed on the Huntsville Havoc hockey team. I have had the opportunity to play with Coach Detullio (the coach of the Havoc), and I know the type of player he was and that he'll love the way Cole plays the game."
 
Recently, Hepler capped an impressive career wearing a Flying Dutchmen sweater. Earlier this week, the team captain was named to the All-Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Second Team for the third straight season, after amassing 15 points this season, good for second on the team. He scored seven goals, which was tied for first, and notched eight assists. He paced the offense with three power-play goals, as well as one game-winning goal and one short-handed tally.
 
In both his junior and sophomore seasons, Hepler also garnered All-MAC Second Team honors. In 2018-19, he finished third on the team with 25 points and tied for second with 17 helpers. During his sophomore season, he ranked third on the squad with 10 goals and 21 points, while leading the Dutchmen with three short-handed goals.
 
In LVC's return to the NCAA during his freshman year, Hepler led the squad with 32 points and 16 tallies. He earned ECAC West Rookie of the Year honors and was an Honorable Mention pick. Lebanon Valley College plays is a Div. III NCAA school who plays in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC).
 
"LVC has molded my ability on the ice and in the classroom to the person I am today," said Hepler. "I'm thankful to Coach Parsons to the opportunity to play college hockey as a Dutchman. I have gained many memorable experiences and friends that will last a lifetime. I'm excited to start my pro career and am looking forward to where it will take me."

Hepler skated six seasons for the Stars program (from 2008 through the 2014 season), spending seasons with the Stars U14 (two seasons), U15, U16 and U18 (two seasons) squads. He wrapped up his amateur career with the Stars 18U Midget Major AAA squad during the 2013-14 season.

"This is great for Cole," said Stars General Manager Dave Kosick.  "You talk about a classy young man who plays the game the right way and brings a passion and love for the game to the rink every night ... that's Cole."

Following the 2013-14 season, Hepler signed an NAHL tender with the Kenai River (AK) Brown Bears. He would go on to skate the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season with the Elliot Lake Wildcats of the NOJHL.

 The Huntsville Havoc are 25-14-3 so far this season and sit in fourth place in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). The regular season wraps up in early April, with playoffs to follow.

Tkac Earns Roster Spot with Team Slovakia

Former Esmark Stars forward Daniel Tkac has made Team Slovakia’s final roster for the 2020 World Junior Championships.

The 19-year-old, who was born in Pittsburgh and who currently skates for the Merritt Centennials in the British Columbia Hockey League, a dual American-Slovakian citizen, was invited to Team Slovakia's camp earlier this month and was named to the finalized roster for the event.

“Every kid growing up wants to make that tournament,” said Tkac upon his invitation to camp. “It’s the biggest tournament in junior hockey. When you get that chance, you want to make it happen.”

This year’s World Junior tournament is taking place, Dec. 26 - Jan. 5, in Ostrava and Třinec in the Czech Republic, right near the Slovakian border, which means Slovakia should have plenty of support all tournament long.

“I think there will be a lot of fans there,” said Tkac. “It would be amazing to play in that kind of atmosphere. I’ll be really excited.”

Although he was born in the U.S., Tkac and his family moved back to Slovakia seven years ago and that’s the country he currently calls home. He played most of his youth hockey in Slovakia, but decided to come back to North America to further his hockey career.  He skated for Yuri Kroivokhija's U16 Esmark Stars squads during both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

Last year, he had 14 points in 46 regular-season games for the Centennials, but so far this year he’s the team’s third-leading scorer with 23 points in 29 contests.

Slovakia is in Group A of the World Juniors along with Finland, Kazakhstan, Sweden and Switzerland.

Tkac and the rest of his teammates are scheduled to open the tournament Dec. 27 against Kazakhstan.

Former Star on Cusp of Junior World Championship Roster

Former Esmark Stars forward Daniel Tkac, who currently skates for the Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), has been invited to Team Slovakia’s selection camp for the 2020 World Junior Championships.

The 18-year-old is a dual American-Slovakian citizen who was born in Pittsburgh, but both of his parents are from Slovakia.

He left for training camp in Slovakia this past Saturday.

“I have to go into camp and play my best hockey and see how that goes,” he said. “But the opportunity is unbelievable to get that chance. You’ve just got to work hard and play your best hockey when you get there. I can’t wait.”

This year’s World Junior tournament takes place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Ostrava and Třinec in the Czech Republic, right near the Slovakian border, which means Slovakia should have plenty of support all tournament long.

“I think there will be a lot of fans there,” said Tkac. “It would be amazing to play in that kind of atmosphere. If it does happen, which I really hope it does, I’ll be really excited.”

The World Juniors have become a holiday tradition in Canada and it’s often said that no one cares about the tournament as much as Canadians, but for someone who’s lived in Slovakia and the U.S. his whole life, the tournament is still something he’s always dreamed of playing in.

“Every kid growing up wants to make that tournament,” said Tkac. “It’s the biggest tournament in junior hockey. When you get that chance, you want to make it happen.”

This isn’t the first time Tkac has represented his country on the international stage as he played for Slovakia at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships in 2018.

“It was an unbelievable experience to play against the top guys around the world,” he said. “It was really nice to see what that kind of hockey is like.”

Although he was born in the U.S., Tkac and his family moved back to Slovakia seven years ago and that’s the country he currently calls home. He played a lot of his youth hockey in Slovakia, but decided to come back to North America to further his hockey career.

After playing in the U.S. for the Stars, he ventured north to Merritt in 2018 to start his junior career.

With any hockey player, there’s always an adjustment period when they make the jump to the next level and Tkac was no different.

Last year, he had 14 points in 46 regular-season games, but so far this year he’s at almost a point per game with 20 in 24 contests.

“It’s a really fast league,” he said. “You have to make decisions quickly, so you have to get used to it. It took some time, but I think I’m used to it now.”

Slovakia is in Group A of the World Juniors along with Finland, Kazakhstan, Sweden and Switzerland.

Slovakia opens the tournament Dec. 27, 2019, against Kazakhstan.

STROBEL EARNS CALL-UP TO YOUNGSTOWN PHANTOMS (USHL)

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) have announced that 18U goaltender Connor Strobel has been called up by the Youngstown Phantoms Junior A club of the United States Hockey League (USHL).

He will join the Phantoms (16-17-0-6) for a weekend series, Feb. 7 & 8, 2020, with the Des Moines Buccaneers (18-17-0-3) at the Mystique Ice Center in Des Moines, IA

The 17-year old Butler, PA native, a senior at Butler High School who is in his first season with the U18 AAA Stars, has an overall record of 21-1-3-1 in 26 overall appearances, with a .941 save percentage and a goals against average (GAA) of 1.47, with seven shutouts.

In nine North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) appearances this season, Stobel (6'2", 170 lbs.) has a 7-0-0-1 record, with a .940 save percentage, a goals against average (GAA) of 1.50, and has recorded three shutouts.

"What a great opportunity for Connor," said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick. “From the long bus ride, to the crowd, to the entire junior environment.  It is an opportunity well earned.”

Strobel recently signed a tender for the 2020-2021 season with the Johnstown Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

J.T. Schimizzi and Blake Rossi share a 'Latrobe connection'

Reprinted from the Post

by Jack Gleckler 

J.T. Schimizzi and Blake Rossi hobbled out from the locker room, skates on and panting from that day’s practice.

Rossi and Schimizzi share a friendship that has forged over the last decade. They are roommates, teammates and have what they call “the Latrobe connection.”

The Pennsylvania natives are as close as two teammates can be. Both were raised near Latrobe, a suburb of Pittsburgh, and grew up 15 minutes away from each other. They began playing hockey at young ages, and both began skating before they were in kindergarten. 

The duo played together on the same team for nine years — from elementary school to the Esmark Stars 18U team. Rossi tallied 18 points in 26 games, and Schimizzi totaled 29 points in 30 games over two seasons.

“It’s an awesome organization,” Rossi said. “We played our whole entire lives, but the past two years we were both on (the Stars), and last year, we made it to nationals, which is the first that team had made it in probably 10 years.”

The nine-year streak was broken when Rossi joined the Amarillo Bulls and Schimizzi joined the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the North American Hockey League last season. Neither saw much action. They can count on one hand the number of games they played for their respective teams. The two returned to the Stars at the end of the season. 

Scouts took notice of the duo during their time at Latrobe and with the Stars. Former assistant coach for Ohio Mike Gugin approached each of them with offers to join the Bobcats. Schimizzi had family ties to Ohio, his older sister and cousins were alumni. The offer was too good to pass up.

“I let (Rossi) know that OU was gonna be my plan, and he was like, ‘Well, now I got to look into it, too,‘“ Schimizzi said. “It really worked out for the best that we were able to come here together.”

Rossi and Schimizzi are looking to refine their skills together again this season. They’re only two of an 11-player freshmen class, and they both want to prove they can step into key roles immediately. Schimizzi plays center and is actively looking to be more defensive-minded. Rossi wants to be more aggressive around the net and develop a stronger presence on the ice. 

Improving is how the pair plans to contribute to the cause this season. The goal of any team is to win the national championship, but the Bobcats say it’s now or never. The two want to give back to the seniors that have provided for them by winning the American Collegiate Hockey Association national championship. The Bobcats lost in the national quarterfinals last year to Iowa State.

“The consensus from the seniors this year is that we gotta win this year,” Schimizzi said. “These guys have been working their butts off for years to get to that point, and we both just want to contribute and make that happen.”

Schimizzi and Rossi will get their chance to contribute once the season kicks into gear with the Green and White scrimmage on Sept. 14.

Kucharski Selected in 2018 NHL Draft

Pittsburgh, PA - Former Esmark Stars AAA Hockey goaltender Jake Kucharski was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes on Day Two of the 2018 NHL Draft.

The 6’4"/193 lbs. native of Erie, PA, who began his climb up the ladder of development with the Esmark program's U16 club during the 2015-16 season, was selected in the seventh round, 197th overall. 

During the '15-'16 season, Kucharski posted a 1.77 goals against average and .917 save percentage for the Stars, including three shut-outs, in 14 NAPHL games. Overall, in 32 Esmark 16U AAA game appearances, he finished with a .896% save percentage and a a 2.41 GAA with five shut-outs.

After the '15-'16 season, Kucharski signed a tender agreement with the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).  In addition, he was also selected in the ninth round of the 2016 USHL Draft, pick #140, by the Chicago Steele.

Kucharski spent most of the 2016-17 with  Austin. where he played in 34 games with a save percentage of .894 and posted a goals against average of 3.31.

During the 2017-18 campaign, Kucharski skated for the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL, where he returned for the current campaign.

Kucharski has also signed a letter of commitment to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Providence Friars beginning with the 2019-20 season.

"I was very proud to see Jake get selected in the Draft," said Esmark Stars U16 head coach Yuri Krivokhija, who himself was selected by the Montreal Canadians in the 10th round of the 1988 NHL draft. "He has worked really hard and stayed focused on achieving his goal," Krivokhija added, "and he is now one step closer to reaching it," 

Kucharski joins former Stars players Grant Lewis (2004 draft, second round, 40th overall) and Miles Liberati (2013 Draft, seventh round, 205th overall) in being selected in the annual NHL draft.

"As both Lewis and Liberati did, Jake has parlayed the opportunity that playing with the Stars provided him ... to chase his dreams all the way to the NHL Draft," said Stars founder and General Manager Dave Kosick.  "Proving that dreams, mixed with sweat and hard work, can come true."

Former Stars Earn All-MAC Honors

Two former members of the Esmark Stars AAA program were among four players from Lebanon Valley College Dutchman that were named to the  2017-18 All-Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Teams, as chosen by the league's coaches.

Forward Cole Hepler and goaltender Tyler Perhac each garnered Second-Team recognition for the league’s inaugural All-League Teams.

Hepler picked up 20 points this season, and was fourth on the team in goals, with nine, and fifth on the squad in assists, with 11.  He netted four goals on the man-advantage, and led LVC with three short-handed goals, including two in LVC's outdoor game against Chatham last month. The assistant captain also registered two game-winning goals on the year.

Perhac enjoyed a breakout season in 2017-18, going 6-3-1 and recording one shutout. The sophomore allowed just 2.62 goals per game and had a saves percentage of .913. His lone shutout of the season came at the Dutchmen Outdoor Classic where he stopped all 16 shots he faced against Chatham.