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Geregach and Tkac Selected

A pair of former Esmark Stars players were selected by the North American Hockey League (NAHL) to participate in the 2021 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, held in cooperation with the NAHL's Robertson Cup Championship, June 19-20, 2021, at the Fogerty Arena in Blaine, MN.

Defenseman Dustin Geregach and forward Daniel Tkac, both members of the NAHL's Johnstown Tomahawks, were selected to play on Team East at the event.

Geregach, who skated for the Esmark Stars U18 AAA club during the 2019-20 and 2018-19 seasons, was tendered by the Tomahawks following his second season withe Stars.

Tkac, who skated for the Esmark Stars U16 AAA club during the 2016-17 and 2015-16 seasons, also played for the Merritt Centennials of the Junior A BCHL (British Columbian Hockey League) as well as represented Team Slovakia at the 2017-18 World U18 Championships and the 2019-20 World U20 Junior Championships, joined the Tomahawks this season.

The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament is one of the most highly scouted events of its kind in the nation. The event  provides the hundreds of NHL and NCAA scouts in attendance with a look at the best uncommitted players the NAHL has to offer, as well as some potential NHL Draft picks.

"This has been a very unique and rewarding season. The owners in the NAHL have done everything to keep the players on the ice to compete, develop, and continue a high level of exposure to NCAA scouts and because of that, we have continued to see record-breaking NCAA advancement this season, which is remarkable," said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld.

"Bringing the Robertson Cup Championship, along with the Top Prospects Tournament together during the same weekend and in the same location will be very important for uncommitted players to get that opportunity to showcase their skills an additional time in pursuit of their NCAA hockey dreams," he added.

The number of players each NAHL team is sending to the tournament, in which teams from the four NAHL divisions: Central, East, Midwest and South is based on each team’s winning percentage from the 2020-21 regular season. Each team is comprised of 22 players (13 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goalies).

To date, 337 players have already made an NCAA commitment during the 2020-21 season. The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament plays a big role in that success, with over half of the players who played in last year’s Top Prospects Tournament, earning an NCAA opportunity following their participation in the event.

Only those NAHL players without an NCAA commitment are eligible to participate in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, with the exception of those who have been identified by NHL Central Scouting as potential prospects for the 2021 NHL Draft.

Multiple Esmark Stars Taken in NCDC Draft

By DLG 06/13/2021, 7:15pm EDT

Felsing, Hixon and Cermak Selected

The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program has announced that three players, both current and former, were selected in the USPHL's National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) draft held on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

U18 forward Michael Felsing, U16 defenseman Zachary Hixon, and former U16 forward, Milan Cermak, were all selected in this year's draft.

Felsing, a 2003 birth year forward, led the Stars 18U team in scoring during the 2020-21 season and helped the Midget Major club to USA Hockey's Nationals Championship tournament, was drafted by the Northern Cyclones. During the '20-'21 season Felsing recorded 87 points (35 goals and 52 assists), including 6 power play goals and 4 shorthanded goals, and finished the season with a +28 plus/minus rating.

Hixon, a 2004 birth year defenseman who skated the past two seasons with the Stars (U15 & U16), was drafted by the South Shore Kings. During the '20-'21 season, Hixon recorded 16 points (5 goals and 11 assists) in 55 games for the U16 Stars.  During the '19-'20 season, he recorded 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in 55 games with the Stars U15 team.

And Cermak, a 2002 birth year forward and former Esmark Stars U16 player (2017-18), who skated most of the 2020-21 season with the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL, before being waived mid-season, was selected by the Jersey Hitmen. He recorded 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 53 games played for the Stars U16 club during the '17-'18 season, helping lead them to the Mid-American District U16 Tier I Championship and a spot in USA Hockey's 2018 U16 Tier I National Championship Tournament.

The 2021 NCDC Entry Draft was held via private conference call between the NCDC organizations and USPHL League office. Each of the league's 13 teams for the 2021-22 season, received 12 selections in the draft, although due to trades not all teams selected 12 players.

Results of the NCDC Entry Draft were listed on the league's website, USPHL.com, in the hours after the Draft's completion.

As the oldest Tier I hockey program in the Mid-American District and one of the oldest Tier I programs in USA Hockey, the Stars AAA Tier I program, founded in 1984, has had players who have graduated from the program go on to play hockey at all levels of the game, from pro hockey (including the NHL and European Pro Hockey), to Collegiate Hockey (NCAA Division I & III and ACHA Hockey), to Junior Hockey (USHL, NAHL, NCDC, OJHL, QJHL, OJHL, NOJHL and more).

The National Collegiate Development Conference, a unique tuition-free junior hockey division geared toward Division I collegiate development, placement and beyond, is a 13-team junior hockey league entirely located in the Northeastern United States.

In 2020-21, the NCDC saw more than 60 NCAA Division I college-committed players, as well as a record 12 players listed in the NHL's Central Scouting "Players To Watch List" in January 2021. 

Four Esmark Stars Selected in NA3HL Draft

By DLG 06/13/2021, 5:30pm EDT

Stoner, Brophy, Ramanau and Dezort Selected

The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) officially kicked-off the 2021-22 season on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 as the league held its annual Draft.

All 34 NA3HL teams made selections, 136 players in total, in the four-round 2021-22 draft.

Among those drafted were four members of the 2020-21 18U Esmark Stars AAA team, including 18U defensemen Zachary Stoner and Yahor Ramanau and 18U forwards Ryder Brophy and Dominic Dezort.

Stoner, who previously was tendered by the North American Hockey League (NAHL) Junior A Johnstown Tomahawks, was selected in the first round, 22nd overall, by the Atlanta Capitals. He scored 38 points (10 goals, 28 assists) in 66 games for the Stars.  He also recorded 2 points (2 assists) for the Tomahawks, as an affiliate player, in call-up action with the Tomahawks.

Brophy, who has been tendered by the NAHL's Lone Star Brahmas, was selected in the first round, 32nd overall, by the Texas Brahmas. He scored 54 points (23 goals, 21 assists) in 56 games for the U18 Stars during the '20-'21 season.  During the '19-'20 season, he recorded 106 points (51 goals and 55 assists) in 63 games played for the U18 Stars. During the  '18-'19 season, Brophy recorded 70 points (34 goals, 36 assists) in 53 games played for the Stars U16 team. And  he recorded 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 62 games played for the U16 Stars during the '17-'18 season.

Ramanau, who was previously tendered by the NAHL's Wichita Falls Warriors, was selected in the second round, 45th overall, by the Oklahoma City Blazers. He scored 49 points (16 goals, 33 assists) in 69 games played for the '20-'21 U18 Stars. During the "19-'20 season, he was credited with 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 35 games recorded for the U16 Stars. And during the '18-'19 season, he was credited with 24 points (4 goals, 20 assists) in 49 games played for the U15 Stars.

Dezort who was previously tendered by the NAHL's expansion El Paso Rhinos club, was selected in the second round, 56th overall, by the Atlanta Capitals. He scored 62 points (28 goals, 34 assists) in 70 games played for the '20-'21 U18 Stars. During the "19-'20 season, he scored 49 points (21 goals, 28 assists) in 62 games played for the U16 Stars. And during the '18-'19 season, he was credited with 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 51 games played for the U16 Stars.

“The NA3HL Draft is an important part of the team-building process and credit to our teams for the work they put this season and during the NAHL Combines in identifying players that could potentially be a part of their plans next season. We have seen time and time again how the NA3HL Draft works for teams and players. For teams, it helps them identify players that fit into their plans and someone they have identified as a player that can make a difference. For the players, this gives them some sense of resolve when they are making their hockey plans for next season,” said NA3HL Commissioner Blake Macnicol.

The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) again had a big presence at the NA3HL Draft as 36 NAPHL players were selected, which is up percentage wise from a year ago. The 36 players selected represented 26% of the selections in this year’s Draft. In 2020, 18% of the players selected played in the NAPHL.

As the oldest Tier I hockey program in the Mid-American District and one of the oldest Tier I programs in USA Hockey, the Stars AAA Tier I program, founded in 1984, has had players who have graduated from the program go on to play hockey at all levels of the game, from pro hockey (including the NHL and European Pro Hockey), to Collegiate Hockey (NCAA Division I & III and ACHA Hockey), to Junior Hockey (USHL, NAHL, NCDC, USPHL, OJHL, QJHL, OJHL, NOJHL and more).

Former Stars Standout Defenseman makes NCAA commitment

By Alex Kyrias 05/20/2021, 8:30pm EDT

Johnstown defenseman Webb commits to Stevenson University

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey organization of the North American Prospect Hockey League (NAPHL), are pleased to announce that  former Stars AAA Hockey player, Ethan Webb has committed to play NCAA Division III hockey for Stevenson University beginning in the 2021-22 season.

Webb is currently a standout veteran defenseman for the Johnstown Tomahawks, of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), whom he joined during the 2017-18 season

Since joining the Tomahawks, Webb, 21, has played a crucial role on and off the ice with the team. The 6’0/160 lbs. native of Lexington, South Carolina, was a part of the Tomahawks 2018-19 Robertson Cup run, where their season ended in the Robertson Cup semifinals This season he helped lead the Tomahawks to another regular season title in the NAHL's East Division and a spot in the upcoming NAHL Robertson Cup Playoffs as the number one seed in the East Division.

“Ethan has been such a quality member of our team since arriving to Johnstown,” said Tomahawks Head Coach Mike Letizia. “His consistent play is something that as a coach you find so valuable.”

“He is a throwback type player who defends well and does whatever it takes for the team to win,” added Letizia. “He has grown and matured as a player over his time here and I think he will be a great asset to the Stevenson hockey program.”

Webb has appeared in 123 career NAHL regular season games during the past three years and recorded 30 points. During the 2020-21 season, he posted nine points in 40 games played and was named the assistant captain.

Prior to playing in the NAHL, Webb skated for the Esmark program for three seasons, following the "NAPHL to NAHL ladder of development."

He appeared in the 2017 NAPHL 16U All-Star Game and the 2018 NAPHL 18U All-Star Game, in addition to playing in the 2018 NAHL 18U Top Prospects Tournament for the NAPHL East Team.

In 45 career NAPHL games with the Esmark 18U and 16U teams, Webb recorded 29 points.

"Ethan is an old-school style player who truly prides himself on his defensive play," said Dave Kosick, Esmark Stars U18 AAA Head Coach. 

"I am happy to hear about his NCAA commitment and would expect him to thrive in that environment as well," Kosick added.

Pittsburgh, PA - Tryouts for the 2021-22 season for the Esmark Stars Hockey teams have been completed.

U18 Esmark Stars Participate in Tier I National Championships

Pittsburgh, PA - The 18U Tier I AAA Esmark Stars were in Maryland Heights, MO, this past week to participate in the 2021 Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier I U18 National Championship Tournament.

The 16-team invitational tournament featured District Champions for 11 of USA Hockey's 12 Districts (the Massachusetts District opted out of holding a District Championship this season due to Covid-19, and five "At-Large" teams, as selected by USA Hockey based on their overall season performance.

The Pittsburgh-based Esmark Stars received one of the five "At-Large" Bids, as did fellow Mid-American Midget Major Clubs Culver Military Academy and the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, to participate in the 16-team invitational tournament to crown a National Champion for amateur hockey in the Tier I AAA U18 Division.

The Stars, who were ranked #12 in the nation entering the tournament, drew a tough draw in the Liberty Division, including Mount St. Charles (playing as the Rhode Island Saints), ranked #4, North Jersey Avalanche, ranked #5, and the Nashville Jr. Predators, ranked #9.

The Stars, who were seeded third in the bracket by USA Hockey, opened play, and the tournament, on Wednesday, April 28, dropping a 5-1 decision to Mount St. Charles Academy (Rhode Island Saints) at the Ice Zone Rink in Hazelwood, MO.  Ryder Brophy scored the lone Stars goal, with assists to Ed Pazo and Egor Busygin.  Connor Strobel suffered the loss in goal as Mount St. Charles scored three power-play goals on eight chances, while Esmark was 0 for 5 withe man-advantage.

The Stars returned to the ice on Thursday, April 29 in a must-win situation to be able to advance out of round-robin play, but ran into a buzz saw and dropped a 9-2 decision to the New Jersey Avalanche at the Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights, MO.  Ryder Brophy cut a 4-0 deficit by one with a power play goal late in the second period, with assists to Ed Pazo and Michael Felsing, but the Avalanche would find the back of the net before the second period horn to extend their lead back to four.  The Avs would turn the game into a rout with four third period goals as a demoralized Stars team saw their chance to advance to the quarter-finals come to an end.  Yahor Ramanau would score a power play goal in the third period, with Shane Miller and Adis Ultanbekov getting assists.  Nathan Dickey suffered the loss in goal.  The Stars were 2 for 3 on the power play while North Jersey was 1 for 6 with the man-advantage.

Esmark closed out their 2021 USA Hockey Nationals appearance with a 8-5 win over the Nashville Predators on Friday, April 30, back at the Ice Zone Rink in Hazelwood.  After quickly falling behind 2-0, the Stars went to work and scored four goals in the first period to grab a 4-2 lead. The Stars scored an apparent goal early in the second period, but the gaol was disallowed by the on-ice officials and Nashville quickly capitalized with a goal of their own to cut the lead to 4-3.  Midway through the second, Nashville would tally the equalizer and tie the game 4-4.  But the Stars would answer with a late second period goal and take a 5-4 lead to the locker room after two periods.  The Stars put the pedal down and would rattle off three straight goals in the third period to take an 8-4 lead.  Nashville would get a late goal to cut the final deficit to 8-5.

Adis Ultanbekov (2G, 1A) would lead the offense with a pair of goals, one on the power play and one shorthanded, and an assist.  Michael Felsing (1G, 2A), Zach Stoner (1G, 1A), Yahor Ramanau, Ethan Zupanc, Regan Kallis, and Ed Pazo also scored goals.  Cole Mitchell (3A), Ryder Brophy (3A), Liam Varmecky (2A), Justin Mettrick, John Camp and Keith Smilowitz all earned assists.  And Connor Strobel picked up the win in goal for the Stars.

Ultanbekov, Stoner, Felsing and Pazo all scored power play goals as the Stars went 4 for 7 on the power play.  And Ultanbekov and Kallis each recorded shorthanded goals, as the Stars held Nashville to an 0-for-5 with the man-advantage.

Both Mount St Charles (Rhode Island) and North Jersey advanced from the Liberty bracket to the quarterfinals.  Mount St. Charles (Rhode Island) would win their quarter-final game and advance to the National semi-finals before falling to eventual National Champion Rochester Coalition.  North Jersey would win both their quarter-final and semi-final games, before falling to Rochester in the Championship game.

The (1-2-0-0) showing at the USA Hockey National Tournament wrapped up the Stars 2021-22 season with an overall record of (44-20-7-0). 

"The boys played hard," said head coach Dave Kosick.  "We knew we had a very tough draw but felt good going into the tournament."

"Our rust showed in game one against Mount St. Charles, and we got ourselves into to deep of a hole to get out of," Kosick said.

"And the game with North Jersey was a win or else proposition, he continued.  "We were competitive with the Avalanche and had cut their lead late in the second period, but we gave up a back breaker goal late in the period ... and the third period the guys knew their Nationals dream was over and it showed."

"But rather than quit, we pulled ourselves back up by the boot straps and completed the journey with a good win to end the season."

This was the third straight season that the 18U AAA Esmark Stars AAA team had earned an automatic spot, or was named to the field, for USA Hockey's 18U Tier I National Championships.

Esmark claimed the Mid-American 18U Tier I title the past two seasons, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, and the automatic spot in the National Championships as Mid-Am District Champions, and was selected as an "At-Large" team for this year's event.

Unfortunately, last season's National Championship was cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Esmark U18 Squad learns opponents and game times

Pittsburgh, PA - The schedule for the 2021 Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier I U18 National Championship Tournament has been released by USA Hockey.

The tournament, which includes the Pittsburgh-based Esmark Stars U18 AAA Club, is a 16-team invitational tournament that will crown a National Champion for amateur hockey in the Tier I AAA U18 Division.

That announcement includes brackets and the final schedule for the tournament that kicks-off next Wednesday, April 28, 2021, and runs through May 3, 2021, in Maryland Heights, Mo.

The tournament field is comprised of 11 District Champions and 5 Wild Card teams, as selected by USA Hockey, to compete for the National Championship.  The nation is divided into 12 Districts with each District winner gaining an automatic bid to Nationals (but the Massachusetts District opted to not hold their District Tournament due to Covid-19 this season, expanding the wild card selection to five teams).  

The Esmark Stars U18 AAA squad (43-18-7-0), ranked as the #12 team in the nation by www.myhockeyrankings.com), received one of the five Wild-Card selections from USA Hockey.

The Stars were placed in "Pool Play Liberty" for the event, along with the Rhode Island Saints, North Jersey Avalanche and Nashville Jr. Predators.

The 18U AAA tournament will open next Wednesday, April 28, at 10:15 a.m. (CST) with the Stars facing the Nation's #4 ranked Rhode Island Saints (21-2-3-1), winner of the New England District, at the Ice Zone Rink in Hazelwood, MO.

On Thursday, April 29, the Stars will square-off at 6:00 p.m. (CST) with the  the Nation's #5 ranked North Jersey Avalanche (38-7-2-2), winner of the Atlantic District, at the Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights, MO.

The Stars close round-robin play with a 3:15 p.m. (CST) face-off against the Nations #9 ranked Nashville Jr. Predators (39-12-2-2), winner of the Southeastern District, at the Ice Zone Rink.

The top two teams from each division (USA, Olympic, NHL and Liberty) advance to the quarter-finals on Saturday, May 1, at the Centene Community Ice Center.

Winners of the quarter-finals will advance to the semi-finals on Sunday, May 2, at the Centene Community Ice Center.

The semi-final winners will meet for the National Championship on Monday, May 3, at 10:15 a.m., at the Centene Community Ice Center.

All Nationals action will be streamed live at HockeyTV.com.

This will be the third straight season that the 18U AAA Esmark Stars AAA team will have earned a spot, or been named to the field, for USA Hockey's 18U Tier I National Championships.

Esmark claimed the Mid-American 18U Tier I title the past two seasons, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, and the automatic spot in the National Championships as Mid-Am District Champions.

Unfortunately, last season's National Championship was cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Register for Upcoming Tier I National Bound AAA Tryouts

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club is accepting on-line registrations for Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Tier I "National Bound" age classifications (U18, U16, U15 and U14) tryouts for the upcoming 2021-2022 season.

The remaining 2021-2022 tryout schedule includes U18 Midget Major (2003-2004 birth-years), U16 Midget Minor (2005), U15 Only Midget (2006), and U14 Bantam Major (2007).

Tryouts for Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Tier I AAA "Non-National Bound" age classifications (U13 Bantam Minor (2008), U12 Pee Wee Major (2009) and U11 Pee Wee Minor (2010)) have been completed.

The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program, the oldest Tier I AAA program in the Mid-American District,  was founded in 1984 and continuously providing opportunities for elite amateur hockey players for over 36 years.

The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program offers participants:

* 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; Bantam - 14U
* 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
* Affiliation 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.

Additional tryout information can be found at the Stars website (www.esmarkstars.com) or by contacting Esmark Stars General Manager Dave Kosick (dwk@thekmagroup.com).

Remember, if you want to "Shoot for the Stars" register for tryouts today!

Note: Times and dates are subject to change ... please refer to website for up-to-date information.

 

Esmark Stars AAA Hockey

2021 – 2022 "Nationals Bound" Tryout Schedule

Bantam 14U AAA - (2007 Birth Year)

May 10, 2021 – 6:00 p.m. – 6:40 p.m. (goaltenders only)

May 10, 2021 – 6:40 p.m. – 7:50 p.m.

May 11, 2021 – 6:00 p.m. – 7:20 p.m.

May 12, 2021 – 6:00 p.m. – 7:20 p.m.

(Additional tryouts may be added, if necessary, to accommodate quantity of registered players.)

Midget 15U (only) AAA - (2006 Birth Year)

May 10, 2021 – 6:00 – 6:50 p.m. (goaltenders only)

May 10, 2021 – 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

May 11, 2021 – 8:00 – 9:50 p.m. scrimmage (assigned teams)

May 12, 2021 – 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. scrimmage (assigned teams)

May 13, 2021 – 5:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (goaltenders only)

May 13, 2021 – 6:00 p.m. – 7:50 p.m. scrimmage (assigned teams)

Additional tryouts may be added, if necessary, to accommodate quantity of registered players

Midget 16U AAA - (2005 Birth Years)

May 10, 2021 – 6:00 – 6:50 p.m. (goaltenders only)

May 10, 2021 – 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

May 11, 2021 – 8:00 – 9:50 p.m. scrimmage (assigned teams)

May 12, 2021 – 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. scrimmage (assigned teams)

May 13, 2021 – 5:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (goaltenders only)

May 13, 2021 – 6:00 p.m. – 7:50 p.m. scrimmage (assigned teams)

Additional tryouts may be added, if necessary, to accommodate quantity of registered players

Midget 18U AAA - (2003 - 2004 Birth Years)

May 13, 2021 – 8:00 – 9:30 p.m.

May 14, 2021 – 8:00 – 8:30 p.m. (goaltenders only)

May 14, 2021 – 8:30 – 9:50 p.m. scrimmage (assigned teams)

May 15, 2021 – 2:00 p.m. – 2:40 p.m. (goaltenders only)

May 15, 2021 – 2:40 p.m. – 4:10 p.m. scrimmage (assigned teams)

May 16, 2021 – 1:00 p.m. – 2:50 p.m. scrimmage (assigned teams)

 

2021 – 2022 "Non-Nationals Bound" Tryout Schedule

Pee Wee 11U AAA - (2010 Birth Year)

Tryouts have been concluded

Pee Wee 12U AAA - (2009 Birth Year)

Tryouts have been concluded

Bantam 13U AAA - (2008 Birth Year)

Tryouts have been concluded

The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club and Pittsburgh Viper Hockey continue to closely monitor all updates and changes regarding Covid-19 from multiple agencies ... federal, state and local.  The health and safety of our athletes, coaches, parents and families remains priority number one.

Please continue to check our website, Facebook and Twitter pages for updates! 

Thank you for your continued interest in Esmark Stars AAA Hockey!

Midget Major Squad Earns a Wild-Card Invitation to Nationals

The 2020-21 Esmark Stars U18 Tier I AAA team have been selected by USA Hockey, the national governing body of amateur ice hockey in the United States, to participate in the 2021 USA Hockey U18 Tier I National Championship, presented by Chipotle, April 28 - May 3, 2021, in Maryland Heights, MO.

The U18 Esmark Stars, currently ranked #11 in the U.S. by  (www.myhockeyrankings.com), received an "At-Large" bid from USA Hockey to participate as one of 16 teams competing for amateur hockey's National Championship.

The USA Hockey 18U Tier I National Championships will feature 11 District Champions, crowned at various USA Hockey District Playoffs that divide the country into 12 sections (the Massachusetts District opted not to hold a District Championship this season because of Covid-19 issues), and five "At-Large" wild card selections from remaining teams.

The Stars, who were upended in early March at the Mid-American District Championship by the 18U Ohio AAA Blue Jackets (who will represent the Mid-Am District as District Champions in Maryland Heights), are waiting for a schedule (opponents, game dates and times) to be released by USA Hockey. 

Under the direction of head coach Dave Kosick and assistant coaches, Yuri Krivokhija and Mike Heltman, the Stars Midget Major team have been busy preparing for the event since getting word from USA Hockey late Tuesday, April 13, night.

"We were very excited to get the call," Kosick offered.  "This team has worked hard all season ... and although we did not win the automatic bid from the Mid-Am District, we felt our resume would allow us to be in the conversation."

The Stars will bring a record of (43-18-7-0) into the National Championships.

"We continued to participate in high level showcases and tournaments post Districts with hope we could continue to build our resume and improve our National ranking," Kosick added.

The Stars will be joined by fellow North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) league members CarShield AAA (MO), the Central District Champion, and Meijer AAA (MI), the Michigan District Champion, at Nationals.

"Quite a compliment to the strength of our league," Kosick said.  "We are excited to join both CarShield and Meijer in pursuit of a National Championship."

This will be the third straight season that the 18U AAA Esmark Stars AAA team will have earned a spot, or been named to the field, for USA Hockey's 18U Tier I National Championships.

Esmark claimed the Mid-American 18U Tier I title the past two seasons, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, and the automatic spot in the National Championships as Mid-Am District Champions.  Unfortunately, last season's National Championship was cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Dickey Set for Action with Kenai River

Esmark Stars AAA Hockey's U18 goaltender Nathan Dickey has signed his affiliate card and called up to the North American Hockey League's (NAHL) Kenai River (AK) Brown Bears.

Dickey, who tendered with the Brown Bears at the beginning of the 2021 tender period, was called up through the NAHL's "affiliate player" process.

"This is a great opportunity for Nathan to see and more importantly participate inside the world of junior A hockey," said Stars's Head Coach Dave Kosick.  "Amplify this by how the town of Kenai River and the surrounding Alaskan communities treat their junior team and it all adds up to a phenomenal opportunity."

Dickey recorded a record of 8-0-0 in nine NAPHL regular season games and 2-1-0 in three Dean Dixon Cup NAPHL Playoff games this season.  He recorded a 1.27 GAA with a .935 save percentage in the regular season and 3.60 GAA and  .881 save percentage in the playoffs.  He was also selected to participate in the NAPHL U-18 All-Star game.

Overall, he recorded a 20-5-4-0 record during the 2020-2021 season for the U18 Stars, including three shut-outs.  His GAA for the season was 2.11 and his save percentage was .917.