The U18 Esmark Stars AAA club shuffled off to Buffalo for a pair of away games with the Amherst Knights (10-4-0-0), this past weekend, Oct. 12 & 13, 2019.
The two squads kicked off the weekend series on Saturday evening at the Northtown Center in Amherst, and skated to a 2-2 tie through regulation and five minutes of overtime. On the evening the Stars outshot the Knights 38-26, but struggled to solve the Amherst goaltender.
Nikita Zapolski, opened the scoring on the power play for Esmark and Ryder Brophy knotted the game late in the third, firing a laser past the Knights goalie. Lane Ruffner, Alex Walker and Dominic Dezort all picked up assists. Conner Stroebel stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced and earned the tie in goal.
The two squads returned to the ice on Sunday at Buffalo State College for an early afternoon game that would close the four game home and home series between the two clubs.
Prior to the game, former Stars defenseman Brendon Zack, now a member of the Buffalo State Bengals NCAA Div III hockey program, addressed the team and shared his story of hard work and how he made the step from the Stars to NCAA hockey.
Feeding off the pre-game conversation, the Stars hit the ice buzzing and would go on to skated to a 8-0 shutout win. Eddie Pazo, paced the offense with a pair of goals and two assists. While Corbin Ragno and Ryder Brophy each scored a goal and added a pair of assists. Nikita Zapolski, Adis Ultanbekov, Preston Morgan and Ethan Zupanc also found the back of the net. Alex Walker, three assists, Hunter Fairman two assists, and Dustin Geregach and Lane Ruffner one assist each, also found their numbers on the scoresheet. The Stars outshot the Knights 59-9. Danny Mitchell would stop all nine Amherst shots he faced to secure the win and shutout in goal.
The trip north improved the U18 Stars overall record to (9-1-2-2) on the season, while the Knights record fell to (10-5-1-0).
The Midget Major Esmark squad, as well as the U16 and U15 Stars, return to the ice next weekend, Oct. 18-20, at the Motown Classic Tournament, in Detroit, MI.