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Pazo Signs Tender with Danbury

By DLG 06/23/2020, 1:45pm EDT

18U Forward Commits to NAHL Club

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that 18U forward Edward Pazo has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Danbury (CT) Jr. Hat Tricks.

A native of Jefferson Hills, PA, the 17-year old junior at Thomas Jefferson High School has skated for the Stars for a pair of seasons.

During the 2019-20 season, Pazo (6'3", 200 lbs.) registered 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists) in 16 regular season NAPHL games and 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in five NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for the U18 AAA Stars. Overall, Pazo registered 92 points (33 goals, 59 assists), including 13 power play goals and a +57 plus/minus rating on the season in 62 games played, helping lead Esmark’s Midget Major squad to the Mid-American District Championship and a spot as District Champions in the 2020 USA Hockey 18U Tier I National Championships.

During the 2018-19 season, Pazo registered 16 points (6 goals, 6 assists), including 3 power play goals, in 15 NAPHL regular season games and 7 points (1 goal, 6 assist) in four NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for the Stars U16 AAA squad. Overall, Pazo registered 57 points (25 goals, 32 assists), including 3 power play goals, in 53 games played for Esmark.

"With Ed's size and production, quite a few teams had expressed interest in securing his junior rights," said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick. "His shot velocity combined with his net front presence and ability to find scoring chances will certainly give him an opportunity to flourish at the next level."

Pazo is the seventh player from the 2019-2020 U18 AAA squad to sign a tender with an NAHL club and the eighth overall Esmark Stars U18 player to sign a Junior A tender for the upcoming 2020-2021 season. He joins teammates Alex Walker, forward, Wichita Falls Warriors; Lane Ruffner, defenseman, Wichita Falls Warriors; Ryder Brophy, forward, Lone Star Brahmas; Connor Strobel, goaltender, Johnston Tomahawks; Dustin Geregach, defenseman, Johnston Tomahawks; and Tyler Stewart, forward, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, who all had previously signed NAHL tenders for this upcoming season, as well as Danny Mitchell, goaltender, who signed with the Worcester Jr. Railers, of the Eastern Hockey League (EHL).

The Jr. Hat Tricks skated as the Wilkes Barre / Scranton, PA, Knights last season but have relocated to Danbury beginning with the 2020-2021 season.  The team, which will remain in the NAHL's Eastern Division, will play out of the Danbury Arena. Former NAHL standout Billy McCreary is the Jr. Hat Tricks head coach.

In addition to the Jr. Hat Tricks, the NAHL East Division also includes: Jamestown Rebels (Jamestown, NY), Johnstown Tomahawks (Johnstown, PA), Maine Nordiques (Lewiston, ME), Maryland Black Bears (Odenton, MD), New Jersey Titans (Middletown, NJ), and Northeast Generals (Attleboro, MA). 

Pazo Drafted by Northern Cyclones (NCDC)

By DLG 06/13/2020, 7:00pm EDT

18U Forward Selected by USPHL NCDC Club

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that 18U forward Edward Pazo was drafted by the Northern Cyclones in the 2020 USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) Entry Draft.

A native of Jefferson Hills, PA, the 17-year old junior at Thomas Jefferson High School has skated for the Stars for a pair of seasons.

During the 2019-20 season, Pazo (6'3", 200 lbs.) registered 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists) in 16 regular season NAPHL games and 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in five NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for the U18 AAA Stars. Overall, Pazo registered 92 points (33 goals, 59 assists), including 13 power play goals and a +57 plus/minus rating on the season in 62 games played, helping lead Esmark’s Midget Major squad to the Mid-American District Championship and a spot as District Champions in the 2020 USA Hockey 18U Tier I National Championships.

During the 2018-19 season, Pazo registered 16 points (6 goals, 6 assists), including 3 power play goals, in 15 NAPHL regular season games and 7 points (1 goal, 6 assist) in four NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for the Stars U16 AAA squad. Overall, Pazo registered 57 points (25 goals, 32 assists), including 3 power play goals, in 53 games played for Esmark.

"During the past season, Eddie clearly demonstrated that he knows how to finish," said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick. "And lots of teams have expressed interest in him because he brings physical size to that finishing touch."

The NCDC Conference of the USPHL is a 13-team tuition-free junior hockey league entirely located in the Northeastern United States.

The Northern Cyclones, skate out of the Cyclones Arena in Hudson, New Hampshire.

Mitchell Signs with Worcester Jr. Railers

By DLG 05/13/2020, 3:15pm EDT

18U GOALTENDER COMMITS TO EHL CLUB

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that 18U goaltender Danny Mitchell has signed a Eastern Hockey League (EHL) contract agreement with the Worcester Railers Junior A Hockey Club.

The 18-year old Mars, PA native, who is a senior at Mars Area High School, completed his second stint with the U18 AAA Stars this past season.

During the 2019-2020 season, Mitchell (6'3", 165 lbs.) had an overall record of 20-5-2-2 in 30 overall appearances, with a .912 save percentage and a goals against average (GAA) of 2.20, including one shutout. In nine regular season North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) appearances , Mitchell has a 4-1-0-2 record, with a .911 save percentage, a goals against average (GAA) of 2.21.  In NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff action, Mitchell was 1-0-0-0 in two appearances. He was also selected to and played in the NAPHL U18 All-Star game.

During the 2018-19 season, Mitchell was undefeated in NAPHL 18U regular season play accumulating a 8-0-0-0 record, including three shutouts in eight games played, with a .909 save percentage and a goals against average (GAA) of 1.88.  In NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff action, Mitchell went 1-1-0-0 in two appearances. During the 2018-2019 season, Mitchell had an overall record of 22-4-1-0 in 30 overall appearances, with a .920 save percentage and a goals against average (GAA) of 1.97, including five shutouts. 

"Danny played a large role in our squad winning the Mid-American District Championships and earning the district spot in the USA Hockey National Championships the past two season," said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick. "He brings a very professional approach to his play and is determined to succeed."

"Danny was part of an elite goaltending tandem our squad had," Kosick added. "He and his playing partner give us a chance to win every night."

Mitchell is the seventh member of the 2019-2020 Esmark Stars to secure a deal with a Junior A club for next season. Fellow goaltender Connor Strobel and defenseman Dustin Gergerach, tendered with the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL; defenseman Lane Ruffner and forward Alex Walker tendered with the Wichita Falls Warriors of the NAHL; forward Ryder Brophy tendered with the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL; and forward Tyler Stewart tendered with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the NAHL.

Located in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Railers Junior Hockey Club is in the EHL's New England Conference.

Tkac Selected in NAHL Supplemental Draft

By DLG 05/13/2020, 12:15pm EDT

Jamestown Selects Former Stars Forward

Former Esmark Stars forward Daniel Tkac was selected by the Jamestown Rebels as the eighth overall pick in the first round of the of the 2020 Junior A North American Hockey League (NAHL) Supplemental Draft on Tuesday, May 12.

Back on April 10th, the NAHL Board of Governors approved changes to the NAHL Player Procurement System, due to unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic which prematurely ended the 2019-20 season and subsequent postponement of NAHL team Pre-Draft Evaluation Camps and NAHL Combines.

"The Supplemental Draft is necessary to serve as an additional outlet for teams to make decisions on how players performed in the 2019-20 season. A lot of time and effort has gone into scouting and recruiting. This way teams can make some decisions early,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld.

“Equally as important, the rescheduling of the NAHL Entry Draft was necessary to allow teams time to make decisions on how players perform at team tryout camps.  Players develop over the summer and some of the best players in the NAHL are discovered through the tryout process."

The NAHL will hold their annual Entry Draft on July 21.

Tkac, a 19-year-old Pittsburgh native, spent the last two seasons with the Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).

In 2019-20, Tkac, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound left-winger, scored 11 goals and recorded 21 assists for 32 points in 45 games with Merritt.

Tkac, who skated for Esmark's U16 team in 2015-16 and 2016-17, skated for Team Slovakia at the 2020 World Junior Championships in Ostrava and Třinec in the Czech Republic.

Tkac previously was selected by the Lincoln Stars as the 115th overall pick in the eight round of the second phase of the 2020 USHL Draft.  The second phase of the USHL Draft was for players over the age of 17.

Stars U18 Brophy Recognized by NAPHL

By DLG 05/08/2020, 12:30pm EDT

Named to '19-'20 All-NAPHL 18U Team - High Performance Division - First Team

The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) has announced that Esmark Stars forward Ryder Brophy has been named to the 2019-2020 All-NAPHL 18U Team - High Performance Division - First Team.

The 17-year old western Pennsylvania native, who is a senior at Franklin Area High School in Franklin, PA, is in his first season with the U18 AAA Stars. Prior to joining the U18 squad, Brophy skated for a pair of seasons with the U16 Esmark Stars.

During the 2019-2020 season, Brophy (6'1", 190 lbs.) tallied 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists), including one power-play and one shorthanded goal, in 16 North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) regular season games and 6 points (5 goals, 1 assist) in five NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff Games. Brophy was also selected to participate in the 2019-202 NAPHL All-Star game and scored a goal for Team Warroad.

Overall during the 2019-2020  season, Brophy led the Stars in scoring and goals scored, as he recorded 106 points (51 goals, 55 assists), including 10 power-play goals and 2 shorthanded goals, in 63 games played.  He helped lead the AAA 18U Stars to the Mid-American District Championship and a spot as District Champions in the 2020 USA Hockey 18U Tier I National Championships.

During the 2018-19 NAPHL 16U season, he registered 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists), in 20 overall North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) games, including three power play goals. Overall, he recorded 70 points (34 goals, 36 assists), including six power-play goals and one shorthanded goal in 53 games.

During the 2017-18 NAPHL season, Brophy registered 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists), in 21 overall 16U AAA league games. He also helped guide Esmark to the Tier I Mid-American District Championship at 16U and a spot at the USA Hockey 16U Tier I National Championships. 

Brophy has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Lone Star (TX) Brahmas for the 2020-2021 season.

"Ryder certainly demonstrated that he was among the top midget-aged players in the nation this past season," said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick. "And recognition by the NAPHL for his play is another feather in his cap."

Consideration and selection to the All-NAPHL 18U Team - High Performance Division Team was based on player performance in all NAPHL games throughout the 2019-20 season.

Tkac Selected in USHL Draft

By DLG 05/08/2020, 12:15pm EDT

Former Star Forward Selected by Lincoln Stars

Former Esmark Stars forward Daniel Tkac was selected by the Lincoln Stars as the 115th overall pick in the eight round of the second phase of the 2020 USHL Draft.

Tkac, a 19-year-old Pittsburgh native, spent the last two seasons with the Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).

In 2019-20, Tkac, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound left-winger, scored 11 goals and recorded 21 assists for 32 points in 45 games with Merritt.

Tkac, who skated for Esmark's U16 team in 2015-16 and 2016-17, skated for Team Slovakia at the 2020 World Junior Championships in Ostrava and Třinec in the Czech Republic.

The USHL, which has 16 teams spread across the midwest, including a team in Youngstown, OH, is the top Junior A Hockey league under the USA Hockey umbrella.

The first phase of the USHL draft was for players under the age of 17. The second phase was for players over the age of 17.

Stars U16 Ultanbekov Recognized by NAPHL

By DLG 05/03/2020, 9:15am EDT

Named to '19-'20 All-NAPHL 16U Team - High Performance Division - Second Team

The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) has announced that Esmark Stars forward Adis Ultanbekov has been named to the 2019-2020 All-NAPHL 16U Team - High Performance Division - Second Team.

In 16 regular season 2019-20 NAPHL games, Ultanbekov, who is from Magnitogorsk, Russia, recorded 25 points (18 goals, 7 assists), including 2 power-play goals and 2 shorthanded goals.

In four 2019-20 NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff appearances, Ultanbekov (6', 180 lbs.) recorded four points (2 goals, 2 assists).  He also scored a goal and an assist in the 2019-20 NAPHL U16 All-Star game for Team Warroad.

Consideration and selection to the All-NAPHL 16U Team - High Performance Division Team was based on player performance in all NAPHL games throughout the 2019-20 season.

"Adis is clearly a very gifted player," said Stars U16 head coach Yuri Krivokhija. "He played all season like a man among boys ... and was successful in getting the puck to the back of the net."

NAPHL Announces 2019-20 Academic Honor Roll

By DLG 05/03/2020, 8:30am EDT

Esmark Players Acknowledged for Academic Excellence

The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) has announced its 2019-2020 NAPHL Honor Roll, recognizing academic excellence by its student-athletes.

To qualify for the NAPHL Honor Roll, student-athletes must have achieved certain academic standards during the 2019-20 school year ... including a minimum 3.5 GPA.

The following Esmark Stars players were recognized for their work in the classroom:

U15 - Zach Hixon, Tristan Lloyd, Liam McClaine, Logan Scanlon, Sebastian Vogt, and Chase Williams

U16 - Nathan Dickey, Hunter Fairman, Logan Marnik, Grant Parshall and Ethan Zupanc

U18 - Ryder Brophy, Dominic Dezort, Dustin Geregach, Trent Gray, Jon Michaels, Danny Mitchell, Brayden Morgan, Jerome Oliver, Gio Palombo, Edward Pazo, Lane Ruffner, Connor Strobel, and Alex Walker

"I am incredibly proud of these young men," said Esmark General Manager Dave Kosick. "We celebrate these student-athletes for their ability to attain academic excellence, while meeting the extraordinary demands placed upon them as elite athletes.

Celebrating its 11th anniversary season in 2019-20, the NAPHL has established itself as one of the premier grounds for development and exposure for elite amateur hockey players. The success of teams on the National stage, as well as, the success of NAPHL players at the next levels of hockey, is further proof that the NAPHL is redefining exposure and has elevated itself to one of the premier training grounds for development and opportunity.

"We salute the NAPHL for celebrating and honoring their players academic accomplishments," Kosick added.

The NAPHL continues to enjoy record-breaking success in terms of advancement in recent seasons, highlighted by the large amount of advancement of players to the North American Hockey League (NAHL). For the upcoming 2020-21 season, 48 players from the NAPHL have been tendered by NAHL Clubs to date. And during the past two years, over 120 NAPHL players have signed an NAHL tender or been drafted into the NAHL.

A remarkable total, given that no other USA Hockey Midget Tier I league has had more players play in the NAHL over the course of the past three seasons than the NAPHL.

The NAPHL is operated by the NAHL's experienced staff and provides an organized and competitive experience guaranteed to benefit all of the participating student-athletes.

Sanctioned by USA Hockey, the NAPHL is designed to maximize the exposure of its Midget and Bantam participants through the NAHL's high-profile recruiting events which attract hundreds of college, junior and professional scouts.

Walker Signs Tender with Wichita Falls

By DLG 04/30/2020, 4:00pm EDT

18U Forward Commits to NAHL Club

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that 18U forward Alex Walker has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Wichita Falls (TX) Warriors.

A native of Latrobe, PA, the 17-year old junior at Latrobe Area High School is in his third season with the Stars. 

During the 2019-20 season, Walker (6'0", 160 lbs.) registered 21 points (7 goals, 14 assists) in 16 regular season NAPHL games and 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) in five NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for the U18 AAA Stars. Overall, Walker registered 76 points (25 goals, 51 assists), including 7 power play goals and a +58 plus/minus rating on the season in 57 games played, helping lead Esmark’s Midget Major squad to the Mid-American District Championship and a spot as District Champions in the 2020 USA Hockey 18U Tier I National Championships.

During the 2018-19 season, Walker registered 16 points (7 goals, 5 assists), in 16 NAPHL regular season games and 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) in four NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for the Stars U16 AAA squad. Overall, Walker registered 48 points (16 goals, 32 assists) in 53 games played for Esmark.

During the 2017-18 season, Walker registered 10 points (8 goals, 2 assists) in 9 NAPHL regular season games and 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in four NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games. Overall, Walker registered 71 points (29 goals, 42 assists) in 60 games played for the U15 AAA Stars during the season.

"Alex is a very gifted player who has worked hard at improving his game and skill set," said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick.

"He has scored a number of highlight and memorable goals over the past three seasons with our program and his performance in NAPHL play and at the Mid-American District Championships solidified his high-end potential," Kosick continued.

Walker will join U18 AAA Esmark Stars teammates Lane Ruffner, defenseman, who previously signed a tender with Wichita Falls, the first tender offered by the Warriors since being tabbed to resume play in the NAHL for the 2020-2021 season; Ryder Brophy, forward, (Lone Star Brahmas); Connor Strobel, goaltender, (Johnston Tomahawks); Dustin Geregach, defenseman, (Johnston Tomahawks); and Tyler Stewart, forward, (Fairbanks Ice Dogs), who all had previously signed NAHL tenders for this upcoming season.

Wichita Falls will be returning to the NAHL and the league's Southern Division after a three-year hiatus

The team, which is owned by Robbie Hockey LLC, an entity owned and operated by Mary Anne Choi, will begin play during the 2020-21 season and play out of the 6,500 seat Kay Yeager Coliseum.  Garrett Roth is the head coach.

The division currently has seven teams competing in the NAHL: Amarillo Bulls (Amarillo, TX), Corpus Christi IceRays (Corpus Christi, TX), Lone Star Brahmas (North Richland Hills, Texas), New Mexico Ice Wolves (Albuquerque, New Mexico), Odessa Jackalopes (Odessa, TX), Shreveport Mudbugs (Shreveport, LA), and Topeka Pilots (Topeka, KS). 

Update: Esmark Stars AAA Hockey 2020-2021 Tryouts

By DLG 04/10/2020, 11:15am EDT

Coronavirus Update: April 10, 2020

Pittsburgh, PA - April 10, 2020 - We continue to receive numerous inquiries regarding upcoming scheduled tryouts and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have on them.

Esmark Stars AAA Hockey were scheduled to begin tryouts for the 2020-2021 season on Monday, April 13, 2020.  As identified previously, those tryouts have been postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic and the restrictions placed by governmental agencies as voiced upon all hockey organizations under USA Hockey's governance, as well as the Mid-American District.

The North Hills Amateur Hockey Association (NHAHA, Pittsburgh Vipers, Viper Stars, and Esmark Stars AAA Hockey) and our activities, including tryouts, are sanctioned by our governing body, USA Hockey (USAH) and fall under the governance of the Mid-American District.

Please note, if you have already registered for the upcoming 2020-2021 season, your registration will apply when the tryouts are rescheduled.

The Mid-American District released an update to its members on April 7, 2020, dictating that all tryouts and activities remain suspended at least through May 15, 2020.

The date is not a "green light" to schedule, but rather a new date of decision on whether a "shelter in place" order has been lifted and whether group activities may resume.

As such, dates for rescheduled tryouts for the Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program remain suspended.

As we receive new or additional information or guidance from USA Hockey we will provide updates on when new dates and times for tryouts will occur for the 2020-2021 Season.

Please note, as of April 1, USA Hockey has opened registration for the upcoming season.  So although we are unable to go to the rinks and skate, we can start preparing for the upcoming season.

You are now able to secure your 2020 - 2021 USAH registration so that players are ready to go once we are able to hold tryouts. As a reminder, once tryouts commence all participants will be required to be registered via the online registration system before taking part in the tryout. 

New or revised information will continue to be shared on the Esmark Stars webpage (www.esmarkstars.com) and Pittsburgh Vipers webpage (www.pittsburghvipers.com) ... and on our Facebook pages ... as it becomes available.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all do our best to navigate this unprecedented situation.

Be well,

Heather Ruffner, NHAHA President
Dave Kosick, General Manager, Esmark Stars AAA Hockey
NHAHA Board of Directors

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Pittsburgh, PA - March 28, 2020 - Because of the ongoing situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and following the direction of the CDC, the Office of the President the United States, the Office of the Governor of Pennsylvania, and USA Hockey ... ALL non-essential activities have been halted or postponed!

As such, the status of our upcoming Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Tier I tryouts, as scheduled, is on hold.

The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club and Pittsburgh Viper Hockey will continue to closely monitor all updates and changes from agencies ... federal, state and local.

All information regarding Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Tier I tryouts will be updated as available.

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 additional updates! 

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