The Esmark Stars U15, U16 and U18 AAA teams opened the 2019-2020 NAPHL League season at the 17th annual North American Hockey League (NAHL) Showcase this past weekend, September 18-22, 2019, at the Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota.
Dubbed the "Greatest Show on Ice", the NAHL Showcase again, 11th season, served as the kick-off for the NAPHL season.
This year's event drew over 9,000 people in overall attendance, including more than 300 junior, NCAA and professional scouts, including all NAHL teams, and almost every NCAA Division I school and NHL team.
The U18 Stars opened play in Minnesota versus the Michigan Hockey Advancement 18U AAA club and dropped a tough 4-5 decision in overtime, as MHA scored the game winner with 24 seconds remaining in 3-on-3 overtime action. Ed Pazo, Ryder Brophy, Adis Ultanbekov and Dustin Geregach scored for the Stars, with Geregach's goal knotting the game at 4's late in the third. Connor Stroebel suffered his first overtime loss of the season in goal, stopping 34 of 39 shots he faced.
On Friday the 18Us faced off against the Minnesota Magician's Elite AAA squad and skated to a 4-3 decision., as Eddie Pazo, who netted a pair of goals, Dalton Swartz and Hunter Fairmain scored for the Stars. Danny Mitchell earned the win in goal as he stopped 22 of the 25 shots he faced.
On Saturday, the 18s faced national powerhouse Compuware and skated to a 2-1 overtime / shootout win. Corbin Ragno tallied the lone regulation goal for the Stars. After a scoreless overtime session, Alex Walker scored twice in the shootout to secure the Stars wins. Connor Stroebel earned the "W" in goal, stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced in regulation and overtime and 3 of 4 shots in the shootout.
The 18s closed the event with a tough 1-0 loss to the Nashville Jr. Predators. Nashville scored a rare shorthanded goal midway through the second period in what would turn out to be the lone marker of the game. Danny Mitchell suffered his, and the team's, first regulation loss of the season in goal as he turned aside 28 of the 29 shots he faced.
With the 2-1-0-1 showing at NAPHL I, the 18U Stars overall record now stands at 5-1-1-1 through eight games.
The U16 Stars opened play in Minnesota against the HPHL's Chicago Young Americans and skated to a 4-3 OT win on Thursday. Nolan Merulli, Adis Ultanbekov and Keith Smilowitz scored for the Stars in regulation, and Kamil Zainullin scored the game winner with 1:10 remaining in the overtime session. Nathan Dickey turned aside 31 of the 34 hots he faced to record the win in goal.
On Friday, the U16 Stars squared-off with the Tri-State Spartans and skated to a 4-2 win as Shane Miller, two goals, Nolan Merulli and Adis Ultanbekov scored goals. Logan Marnik recorded the win in goal.
On Saturday the Stars skated to a 11-0 shutout win over the Minnesota Elite Prep Divisional League's Minnesota Moose. Hunter Fairmain, three goal hat-trick, Shane Miller, two goals, Adis Ultanbekov, two goals, Neil Domico, Nolan Merulli, Etan Zupanc and Grant Parshall all recored goals for the Stars. Nathan Dickey turned aside all the shots he faced to record the win and shutout in goal.
The 16Us closed the event on Sunday and dropped a tough 3-1 decision, their first loss of the season, to the Sioux Falls Power. Adis Ultanbekov scored the lone Stars goal. While Logan Marnik suffered the loss in goal.
With the 3-1-0-0 showing at NAPHL I, the 16U Stars overall record now stands at 5-1-0-0 through six games.
The U15 Stars opened play in Minnesota against the NAPHL's Meijer AAA club and skated to a 3-2 OT win on Thursday. Derek Pietrzyk and Chase WIlliams scored the regulation goals for the Stars, and Chase Stormer scored the game winner :34 seconds into overtime to send the Stars home with a win. Paul Potosnak recorded the win in goal, stopping 15 of the 17 shots he faced in goal.
On Friday, the U15 squad dropped a 4-0 decision to the Michigan Hockey Advancement U15 AAA squad. Paul Potosnak suffered the loss in goal.
On Saturday, the Stars skated to a pair of exciting wins. First up was Team Alaska, whom the Stars defeated 2-1 in an overtime / shootout win. Owen Tutich knocked in a power play goal in the third period to record the Stars lone regulation time goal. Kowen Belsterling scored in the shootout to secure the win. Paul Potosnak, appearing in his third consecutive game, earned the win in goal, stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced in regulation and overtime and the lone shot he faced in the shootout.
Later Saturday afternoon, the Stars returned to the ice and skated to a 3-2 regulation win over the Sioux Falls Power. Logan Scanlon, Chase Stormer and Niven Delano tallied goals for the Stars. Fedor Tabako stopped 26 of 28 shots he faced to record the win in goal.
On Sunday, a tired U15 squad dropped a 5-2 decision to the Minnesota Elite Prep Divisional League's Minnesota Green Giants. Zach Zeto and Kowin Belsterling scored for the Stars. Paul Potosnak suffered the loss in goal, stopping 33 of the 38 shots he faced in goal.
With the 3-2-0-0 showing at NAPHL I, the 15U Stars overall record now stands at 5-5-2-0 through the early season.