Four members of the 2018-2019 Esmark Stars U18 AAA club, that captured the Mid-American District U18 Tier Championship and advanced to the U18 Tier National Championships, played prominent roles in helping Team Pittsburgh capture the 2019 America's Showcase St. Louis Tournament in St. Louis, MO.
Forwards Corbin Ragno and Olda Virag, and defenseman Dustin Geregach and Andrew Jacobs all celebrated the team's 9-2 blowout victory over Team Texas to claim the championship and close out a 6-0-0-0 run to the tournament title.
Pittsburgh opened the tournament skating past Team Midwest, 10-0, as Virag recorded two goals and an assist, Jacobs two goals, Ragno one goal and Geregach one assist. Next up was a blowout win over Team Colorado Burgundy, 11-2, as Virag scored a goal and added three assists, Geregach, one goal and two assists, and Ragno two assists. Team Pittsburgh closed out round-robin play with a 5-0 shutout win over Team Missouri Blue, as Geregach scored a goal and Virag added a pair of assists.
Coming out of round-robin play, Pittsburgh secured the number one seed from their bracket.
In quarter-final play, Team Pittsburgh routed Team North Dakota, 15-1, as Ragno recorded one goal and one assist; Virag, one goal; Geregach two assists; and and Jacobs one assist.
In semi-final action, Team Pittsburgh skated to a 4-0 shutout win over Team Wisconsin. Geregach and Ragno each scored a goal; Virag added three assists; and Jacobs one assist.
In the championship, Virag would score two goals and two assists; Ragno would score one goal; and Geregach would add a pair of assists.
Virag was selected as the tournament MVP, collecting 17 points (6 goals and 11 assists) and leading all scorers at the tournament.
The Esmark Stars, and its predecessor programs, have always afforded their players an opportunity to compete on both the national Tier I level and the local high school hockey level ... something unique to most area and national Tier I programs.
America's Showcase was founded in 1985 to provide the nation’s premier high school players an opportunity to be scouted by high-level programs so those players who participate may further their hockey careers in prep school, juniors, college, and beyond.
The current five-day showcase consists of boys and girls divisions represented by 20 boys teams and 10 girls teams from across the country that gives scouts opportunities to recruit from the wealth of talent on the ice.
This season the tournament returned to St. Louis, MO, and St. Peter's Rec-Plex served as the home rink.