skip navigation

      Proud to be the off-ice and strength & conditioning partner to the Esmark Stars AAA program!

      2018 - 2019 Tryout Dates Announced

      Pittsburgh, PA - Tryout dates for the Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club Tier I teams for the 2018-19 season have been announced.

      As the oldest Tier I AAA program in the Mid-American District (founded in 1984 and continuously providing opportunities for elite amateur hockey players for over 33 years), the Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program offers:

      * Nationally recognized program;
      * Nationally recognized elite-level coaching staff;
      * One team at each birth-year level;
      * 2 - 3 practices per week;
      * Comprehensive off-ice testing and instruction, including use of a full service gym at the rink
      * Members of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) - Midget 18U, 16U and 15U;
      * Participate in high-end national tournaments, selected to best showcase elite athletes;
      * Great schedule (mix of league, tournament and home and home series) with elite AAA opponents from across the US and Canada
      * Affiliated with the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL;
      * Past players have gone on to play hockey at every level, including (NHL, OHL, AHL, IHL, USHL, NAHL, NCAA Div. I & III, ACHA, Div. I & III).

      All tryouts will be conducted at the Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington, PA.

      For additional tryout information or to be added to the Esmark Stars mailing list, please forward a request "to be added to our mailing list" to Dave Kosick (

      We look forward to seeing all interested players at our tryout sessions and encourage all to "Shoot for the Stars!"

      Esmark Stars AAA Hockey

      2018 – 2019 Tryout Schedule

      Pee Wee 11U AAA - (2007 Birth Year)

      April 7, 2018 – 4:20 – 5:30 p.m.
      April 8, 2018 – 12:20 – 1:30 p.m.
      April 9, 2018 – 6:20 – 7:30 p.m.

      Pee Wee 12U AAA - (2006 Birth Year)

      April 7, 2018 – 3:00 – 4:10 p.m.
      April 8, 2018 – 11:00 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
      April 9, 2018 – 7:40 – 8:50 p.m.

      Bantam 13 AAA - (2005 Birth Year)

      April 14, 2018 – 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
           10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Goalies (2004 / 2005)
           11:30 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. – Defenseman / Goalies (2004 / 2005)
           12:45 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. – Forwards / Goalies (2004 / 2005)
      April 17, 2018 – 6:00 – 8:30 p.m., (2004 / 2005)
      April 18, 2018 – 6:30 – 9:00 p.m., (2004 / 2005)

      Bantam 14U AAA - (2004 Birth Year)

      April 14, 2018 – 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
           10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Goalies (2004 / 2005)
           11:30 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. – Defenseman / Goalies (2004 / 2005)
           12:45 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. – Forwards / Goalies (2004 / 2005)
      April 17, 2018 – 6:00 – 8:30 p.m., (2004 / 2005)
      April 18, 2018 – 6:30 – 9:00 p.m., (2004 / 2005)

      Midget 15U AAA - (2003 Birth Year)

      April 11, 2018 – 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Goaltenders Only)
      April 11, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:10 p.m. (Defenseman / Goalies Only)
      April 11, 2018 – 8:20 – 9:30 p.m. (Forwards / Goalies Only)

      April 12, 2018 – 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Goaltenders Only)
      April 12, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:10 p.m. (Scrimmages (1) / Assigned Teams)
      April 12, 2018 – 8:20 – 9:30 p.m. (Scrimmages (2) / Assigned Teams)

      April 16, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:20 p.m. (Scrimmages (3) / Assigned Teams)
      April 16, 2018 – 8:30 – 9:50 p.m. (Scrimmages (4) / Assigned Teams)

      April 17, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:20 p.m. (Scrimmages (5) / Assigned Teams)
      April 17, 2018 – 8:30 – 9:50 p.m. (Scrimmages (6) / Assigned Teams)

      Midget 16U AAA - (2002 & 2003 Birth Years)

      April 11, 2018 – 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Goaltenders Only)
      April 11, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:10 p.m. (Defenseman / Goalies Only)
      April 11, 2018 – 8:20 – 9:30 p.m. (Forwards / Goalies Only)

      April 12, 2018 – 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Goaltenders Only)
      April 12, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:10 p.m. (Scrimmages (1) / Assigned Teams)
      April 12, 2018 – 8:20 – 9:30 p.m. (Scrimmages (2) / Assigned Teams)

      April 16, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:20 p.m. (Scrimmages (3) / Assigned Teams)
      April 16, 2018 – 8:30 – 9:50 p.m. (Scrimmages (4) / Assigned Teams)

      April 17, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:20 p.m. (Scrimmages (5) / Assigned Teams)
      April 17, 2018 – 8:30 – 9:50 p.m. (Scrimmages (6) / Assigned Teams)

      Midget 18U AAA - (2000 - 2003 Birth Years)

      April 11, 2018 – 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Goaltenders Only)
      April 11, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:10 p.m. (Defenseman / Goalies Only)
      April 11, 2018 – 8:20 – 9:30 p.m. (Forwards / Goalies Only)

      April 12, 2018 – 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Goaltenders Only)
      April 12, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:10 p.m. (Scrimmages (1) / Assigned Teams)
      April 12, 2018 – 8:20 – 9:30 p.m. (Scrimmages (2) / Assigned Teams)

      April 16, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:20 p.m. (Scrimmages (3) / Assigned Teams)
      April 16, 2018 – 8:30 – 9:50 p.m. (Scrimmages (4) / Assigned Teams)

      April 17, 2018 – 7:00 – 8:20 p.m. (Scrimmages (5) / Assigned Teams)
      April 17, 2018 – 8:30 – 9:50 p.m. (Scrimmages (6) / Assigned Teams)

      Esmark Stars Coaching Applications

      The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club is now accepting applications for assistant coaching positions for the 2018-2019 season.

      The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club will consist of seven (7) Tier I AAA teams for the 2018-2019 season offering teams at the '07, ’06, ’05 and ’04 birth years along with a 15U, 16U, and 18U team. 

      The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club is a national and internationally recognized club that provides elite level training and development.  The club provides Tier I hockey players exposure on a regional, national and international level mixed with on- and off-ice training designed to allow each player to maximize their potential ... all while providing constructive lessons that allow them to excel in life.

      If you are interested in joining the coaching ranks of the Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club, please click on link below and complete the form.

      If you have any questions please contact Dave Kosick at

      We appreciate your interest in joining the Esmark Stars AAA Club and helping our players ... Shoot for the Stars!

      BILLET FAMILIES WANTED: 2018-2019 Season

      Know a family interested in opening their house to a travel hockey player billet for the upcoming 2018-2019 season?

      The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club is seeking families interested in serving as billet families. Families, both from within and outside of the Esmark Stars and Pittsburgh Viper Hockey Organization, are encouraged to participate.

      If your family would be interested in participating or if you have any questions, please contact Tara Gorscak @ (724) 689-9911.

      Former Stars Defenseman Commits to Air Force Academy

      The Esmark Stars, proud members of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL), are pleased to announce that former Esmark Stars defenseman Carter Ekberg has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Air Force Falcons of Atlantic Hockey.

      Ekberg played two seasons of 16U, Pittsburgh Viper Stars (2012-13) and the Esmark Stars (2013-14), and then one season, his senior year, with Esmark (2014-15), during which he registered 23 points in 24 NAPHL games.  He signed a tender with the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) during his 18U season

      A McMurray, PA, native, Ekberg (180 lbs., 6’1") has played for the Jets for parts of four seasons.  In 84 career NAHL games, all with Janesville, Ekberg has totaled 32 points.

      Ekberg is the first Jets defenseman this season to earn his NCAA commitment.

      “I’m extremely excited to commit to Air Force,” said Ekberg. “This year has been huge for me, becoming a leader on the team and having more chances to play and make big impacts on every game. It’s had a huge impact on my confidence.”

      Ekberg joins forwards Kip Hoffmann (Robert Morris) and T.J. Polglaze (Michigan Tech) as 1997-born Jets veterans to earn their commitment this season.

      “This year Carter has taken a huge step and evolved into a complete, two-way guy on the back end,” said assistant coach Corey Leivermann, who works with the team’s defensemen. “As the ‘D’ coach, he’s meant everything to me and to our group. When he’s healthy I lean on him heavily because I know he consistently gives us what we need in all situations. Whether it’s the power play, penalty kill, five-on-five, the first minute of a period, the last minute of a period, overtime, it doesn’t matter ... Carter Ekberg is our guy.”

      "I think Carter realizes this day came to be because of a huge investment of blood, tears and sweat," said his U18 Esmark head coach Dave Kosick.  "He is an extremely bright and skilled young man who will be a great addition to the Air Force Academy."

      “As a young, developing guy, you sit out games, holding clipboards, battling to earn your spot every day. There are a lot of stories like that in this league with older guys getting commitments at the ends of their junior careers. I’m definitely not the first,” said Ekberg.

      Ekberg’s junior career began in March of 2015 with two games as an affiliate player of the Jets. He started the following season with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers, suiting up for two games before rejoining to the Jets again in October.

      Ekberg played 22 games with the Jets before getting another crack at the USHL with a call from the Youngstown Phantoms in February.  He again returned to the Jets for the 2016-17 campaign with the Jets.

      This season, Ekberg tops Janesville's blueliners in scoring with four goals and 18 total points, playing most of the season on the Jet's top pair.

      “As a kid coming out of that Esmark Stars program, the first thing you noticed about Carter’s game was his mobility,” said former Jets head coach Joe Dibble, who brought Ekberg to the Jets and coached him for two seasons. 

      Dibble said he’s seen Ekberg take important strides both mentally and physically.

      “He’s always been an elite skater who plays with his head up and has the skill to make plays, but I was especially impressed with his development this year.  Last summer I think he really dedicated himself to becoming a college athlete. He worked on his strength and you see him now stronger on the puck, stronger in the corners, stronger in front of his own net,"  Dibble said.

      "He’s always been a confident skater and playmaker, but now you see that confidence defensively and without the puck. He’s a complete defenseman who’s ready to become a student athlete at the Division I level," he added.

      The Falcons play at the nearly 2,500-seat Cadet Ice Arena in Colorado Springs, CO.  Head coach Frank Serratore has held the reigns since 1997, and last season joined a group of just 22 with his 400th career NCAA Division I win.

      “The coaching staff was definitely one of the biggest reasons for choosing Air Force,” said Ekberg.  “A bunch of them are alumni, or they played D-1, or they played pro, so they know what they’re talking about.  They’re all great, knowledgeable people who made me feel super welcome and wanted there, which was important to me. I can’t say enough good things about that staff.”

      To Leivermann, it’s an especially great fit for Ekberg as a student and as a person.

      “That’s an amazing academic school out there in Colorado,” he said. “That works well for a smart kid like Ekberg. He’ll get good academics, he’ll get to play good hockey, and they do a great job helping their alumni find careers after their playing days, too.”

      Air Force recorded five NCAA tournament appearances from 2007 through 2012, missing just once in 2010. Last spring, the Falcons qualified again, breaking a four-year drought. Their offense includes attacking defensemen, said Ekberg, which was a major reason in choosing the school.

      “They like to get their ‘D’ involved in the offense,” Ekberg said. “Coach Serratore told me they try to activate them through the zones, which is a good fit for me. I like to take my chances when I see fit, and that’s something they’re big on. It’s a good opportunity for me to be an offensive guy on the back end.”

      With his NCAA D-I commitment secured, Ekberg said he feels even more ready for a long playoff run with the Jets.

      Former Stars Goalie Eyed by NHL

      The Esmark Stars are pleased to announce that former Esmark goaltender Jake Kucharski  has been recognized as the number 5 North American goaltender in the NHL Central Scouting midseason rankings of 2018 draft-eligible players.

      The NHL will release its final rankings in April.  The Dallas Stars will host the 2018 NHL Draft at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Draft will be held over two days, June 22-23, 2018.

      Kucharski was previously recognized by the NHL's ‘November Prospects to Watch’ list for 2018 draft-eligible players and the release of NHL Central Scouting's "players to watch in North America and Europe." 

      Kucharski, who skated for the 16U Esmark Stars during the 2015-16 season, was one of three former NAPHL alumni recognized by the NHL's November Prospects to Watch’ list.

      This continues the recent trend of NAPHL alumni garnering recognition by NHL teams. Earlier last summer, two former players, Jeremy Swayman and Cole Hults, were selected in the 2017 NHL Draft.  During the past five NHL Drafts a total of 23 NAPHL alumni have been selected.

      Kucharski, who is currently skating for the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL, manned the nets for the NAHL's Austin Bruins during the 2016-17 season.

      Earlier this season, in September, Kucharski, a 6'4", 205-pound 18 year-old netminder, was selected, along with 41 other American-born NHL draft-eligible players, to participate in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y.

      The NHL Central Scouting list, comprised of "A," "B" and "C" players for the upcoming season in each of the major junior hockey leagues, are sent to NHL team scouts for the purpose of tracking the top draft-eligible players entering the 2017-18 season.  All "A" skaters have been identified as potential first-round picks, while "B" players are considered second- or third-round candidates. The players on the "C" list are thought to be fourth-, fifth- or sixth-round possibilities. Central Scouting's preliminary rankings were revealed in November. That list included the top 25 prospects for each of the various leagues throughout North America and Europe.

      Kucharski’s plan moving forward will take him from Des Moines, to Providence, Rhode Island, next fall, where he will be a member of NCAA Division I Providence College’s 2018-19 freshman class.

      But he would appreciate taking a detour through Dallas in June. “I always believed I could (get drafted), and always thought it would be awesome if I could,” he said. “To have made it to this point is a big accomplishment. But I know I’ve got a ways to go if I want to fulfill the ultimate goal.”

      Former Stars Forward keeps teammates laughing

      By Steve Stein

      Former Esmark Stars player Matt Amelio has a great sense of humor.  That's a big reason why he's so popular with his teammates on the Vermont Lumberjacks team in the Eastern Hockey League (EHL).

      "The guys enjoy playing with Matt," said Lumberjack';s head coach Jim Mosso.  "He's the glue in our locker room and the center of our team, a real character guy."

      Amelio doesn't mind being a character at times - and a leader all the time.

      "I like to keep the guys loose," he said.  "You're not going to play well if you're uptight.  Because I am one of the older guys on the team, I also feel it's important to show them the ropes."

      Amelia is dead serious about an important part of his hockey life.  Now in his final season of junior eligibility, he wants to continue his hockey career at a Division III college.

      "Anywhere," he said.  "I don't have a timeline for making a decision.  I'll know when it's the right place.  I love hockey.  I've been playing since I was five and I want to keep playing."

      Amelio has had some club team offers, but the goal for the 5-foot-8-inch, 185-pound forward is to land at a D-3 school.

      "We've gotten some calls from D-3 coaches," Mosso said.  "Any college team would be happy to have Matt in their locker room and his playing style will make him successful in the college game.  Playing D-3 is Matt's hope and dream."

      This is Amelio's second season with Lumberjacks' Premier Division team and he has made an impression on Motto.

      "Matt is the full package as a player," Mosso said.  "He's fast and strong, a good scorer, a real offensive threat.  He also takes care of his responsibilities on the defensive end."

      Amelio takes his defensive role seriously.

      "You need to play solid defense to create offense," he said.  "I understand the importance of protecting your zone.  I'll do whatever needs to be done to help my team."

      Amelio has a team-leading 20 goals along with 26 assists through 33 games this season.  His 46 points rank second on the Lumberjacks team.

      The Venetia, PA, native, who skated for the U18 Esmark Stars during the 2014-15 & 2015 seasons, has four power play goals, four power play assists, and two game-winning goals on his stat sheet this season.

      "I've adjusted to the pace of the game (in the Premier Division), and I'm stronger than I was last year," Amelio said.

      Amelio's output was a big reason why the Lumberjacks were doing well at the holiday break.  They currently sit in first-place in the North Conference at 26-6-0-1 for 53 points.

      Scouting Information / Player Advancement

      Scouts, Junior and Collegiate teams are invited to participate in the Esmark Stars Player Advancement Program.

      To receive scouting information on Esmark Stars AAA Hockey teams or players, please contact Paige Tatters, player advancement coordinator, at ( or (412) 726-9608.

      Scheduling Games with the Esmark Stars

      Tier I AAA teams interested in scheduling games with the Esmark Stars teams (Midget 18U, Midget 16U, Midget 15U, Bantam Major 2003, Bantam Minor 2004, and Pee Wee) should contact Dave Kosick, General Manager Esmark Stars AAA Hockey.

      Tryouts for the Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club Tier I AAA teams for the 2017-18 season, have been concluded.

      Esmark Stars AAA 2017-2018 COACHES

      The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club is pleased to announce their head coaches for the 2017-2018 season.

      18U AAA - Dave Kosick / Yuri Krivokhija
      16U AAA - Yuri Krivokhija
      15U AAA - Derik Gaworski

      14U AAA - Eric Tisdale / Mike Heltman
      12U AAA - Luke Kopchak / Mike Heltman

      FUNDRAISER UDATE: January Calendar Raffle Reminder

      Thank you to all our members who followed the guidelines and returned their January Calendar Raffle Ticket Stubs.  And a special thanks goes out to those who followed all the directions and filled out their stubs ... with a complete name and address.

      Unfortunately, ticket stubs not returned prior to Jan. 1, 2018, will NOT be accepted.  (Tickets stubs were due to be returned by Dec. 23. 2017).

      In the planning, it seemed simple to look at a winning ticket and write the winning name on a check and address the envelope to the required address on the stub.  Add a stamp and there it goes!

      However, so many tickets were returned with missing information (primarily address) on the stub, that it prevents us from forwarding winning prizes in many circumstances.

      Therefor, we are listing all winning tickets on the home page of the Pittsburgh Vipers / NHAHA website, (

      On the chart we will list the winning number each day, along with the name of the winner and a column identifying if we have the forwarding address. 

      If you check the winning list and notice that one of your tickets has won, but that we are unable to forward the winning, just email the needed, but missing, information to (  Please make sure you indicate the winning ticket number, as well as your mailing information.  And please, no phone calls.

      In addition, if you sold your tickets, please check the list to see if you may have sold a winning ticket that lacks all necessary information.

      In cases where a name is not listed on a winning ticket, it is required that a copy of the ticket must be provided to claim the winnings.

      (Please remember this raffle uses the EVENING PICK 4 number, not the Power Ball drawing.)