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The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) has announced rosters for the fifth annual NAPHL 16U All-Star Game, to be held on Saturday, Jan. 27, 6:00 p.m., at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, MN.
The U16 Esmark Stars AAA team had five members of their team named to the game, as forwards Anton Kuzitskiy and Cole Ferri, defensemen Ryan Hastings and Aliaksei Kosterau, and goaltender Craig Perry were announced as members of the NAPHL East Squad.
The NAPHL All-Star Games will feature players who are leading the way in the NAPHL and many of whom are considered top prospects in North America in their respective birth-years.
At the 2017-18 16U All-Star Game, both the East and West teams will consist of 23 players (12 forwards, 8 defensemen and 3 goaltenders).
“The NAPHL All-Star Game is a great event each season and highlight's the league’s best players up to this point in the season," said NAPHL Director Tony Zasowski.
This year's All-Star Game was pushed back a month in order to give scouts plenty of time for evaluation.
"The NAHL Central Scouting team of scouts has done a tremendous job tracking the league throughout the season and providing feedback on the top players in the NAPHL,” Zasowski added.
The NAPHL All-Star Games are a part of the NAPHL’s fifth regular season event of the season, which will feature all NAPHL 18U and 16U teams competing in the final regular season event of the 2017-18 season.
Last season, a record number of players were tendered or drafted into the NAHL and USHL in large part because of showcase events like the NAPHL All-Star Games, along with the 18U Top Prospects tournament at the end of the season. With a strong handful of NCAA commitments, USHL call-ups and NAHL tenders already signed, the NAPHL is expecting another banner year in terms of player advancement, including those players appearing in this year’s All-Star Game.
The All-Star teams were selected based on nominations from coaches and player evaluations from NAHL Central Scouting throughout the first four months of the season. Additionally, consideration was given to the overall standings when determining the number of players selected from each team in addition to those players who have already signed NAHL tenders or made NCAA Division I commitments
The NAPHL All-Star Games will be broadcast live and in HD through HockeyTV.
The Esmark Stars are pleased to announce that former Stars goaltender Jake Kucharski was recognized by the National Hockey League (NHL) in the ‘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 this 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.
NHL Central Scouting will release its midseason rankings of 2018 draft-eligible players in January, followed by its final rankings in April. The Dallas Stars will host the 2018 NHL Draft at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Next year's Draft will be held over two days on June 22-23.
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.”
The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) has announced that Kenny Vought, a goaltender with the Esmark Stars U16 team, was selected as the Apex Learning Virtual School Peak Performer U16 Number One Star - Goaltender, for the month of October.
The award was based upon player performance at the second NAPHL event of the 2017-2018 season which took place in Blaine, MN, Oct. 20-23.
Vought, a native of Larksville, PA, (5’10"/150 lbs.), was perfect in two appearances in Blaine, as he turned aside all 35 shots he faced and picked up two wins in helping lead the Stars to a 4-0-0-0 record at the league's second showcase.
Vought turned aside all 14 shots he faced in a 4-0 win over Pursuit of Excellence over Pursuit of Excellence and all 21 shots he faced in a 6-0 win over the Thunder Bay Kings.
"Kenny had a good weekend," said Esmark 16U head coach Yuri Krivokhija. "Both he and Craig (Perry) were sharp in goal."
"They did exactly what we ask our goaltenders to do," he added, "give us a chance to win."
After each NAPHL league event, the league's central scouting staff selects top performers (three stars), for the 18U and 16U divisions, as well as the 15U division for events in which they participate, for offense, defense and goaltending.
The NAPHL is comprised of five regular-season events leading up to its Championship Tournament in which the top teams in each division compete for a league championship. The third NAPHL event of the 2017-18 season will take place from Nov. 10-13, 2017, at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, MI.
Now in its ninth season, the NAPHL is composed of Midget Major (18U) and Midget Minor (16U & 15U) teams from across North America that compete at the Tier I level.
The NAPHL provides an organized and competitive experience with an unrivaled scouting presence guaranteed to benefit all of the participating student-athletes and programs and has established itself as the premiere training ground for development and exposure.
Not only have players in the NAPHL received recognition from NHL Central Scouting, dozens have received scholarships to NCAA Division I schools and hundreds more have been drafted and tendered by North American Hockey League (NAHL) and United States Hockey League (USHL) teams.
The NAPHL, which is sanctioned by USA Hockey, is designed to maximize the exposure of all the participants through the NAHL's high-profile recruiting events that attract hundreds of college, junior and professional scouts.
For more information on the NAPHL, visit www.naphl.com.
Apex Learning Virtual School
With more than 100 online high school courses and 20 years of experience, Apex Learning Virtual School offers players the opportunity to be both successful academically and available for practice and travel. Rigorous curriculum and the support of expert online teachers provide a strong academic foundation. The flexibility to complete online course work when and where it is convenient means school can fit with player's hockey commitments. Enrollment options include full time to earn a diploma and individual courses to fulfill specific requirements. For players wanting to qualify for Division I and Division III college teams, courses approved by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are offered.