Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that 18U forward Ethan Zupanc has signed a NCDC (National Collegiate Development Conference) tender agreement with the USPHL's Wilkes Barre Jr. Knights.
Zupanc has skated for Esmark AAA Hockey for the past seven seasons: 2021-'22 and 2020-'21 with the U18 AAA Midget Major Stars; 2019-'20 with the Stars U16 AAA Midget Minor team; 2018-'19 season with the Stars U15 AAA Midget Minor squad; 2017-'18 with the Stars U14 AAA Bantam Major team; 2016-'17 with the Stars U13 AAA Bantam Minor squad; and his first season with the Stars program, 2015-'16, with the Stars U12 Pee Wee Major team.
The (6'1", 180 lbs.) 18 year-old from Greensburg, PA, registered 28 points (15 goals, 13 assists), including a team leading eight power play goals, plus one game-winning goal, in 32 North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) appearances (24 regular season and four Dixon Cup NAPHL Playoff games) during the 2021-22 season.
Overall this past season, Zupanc tallied 59 points (31 goals, 28 assists), including 9 power play goals and 1 shorthanded goal, in 61 games played for Esmark.
During the 2020-21 season, Zupanc registered 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists), in 20 regular season NAPHL games and five NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for Esmark's U18 squad.
Overall during the 2020-21 season, Zupanc recorded 49 points (14 goals and 35 assists) in 69 games played overall for the U18 Stars, helping the Stars U18 squad earn a spot at the USA Hockey National Championships.
During the 2019-20 season, Zupanc notched 17 points (7 goals and 10 assists), including 1 game-winning goal goal, in 16 regular season NAPHL games and four NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for Esmark's U16 squad. He also scored a goal for Team Warroad in the 16U NAPHL All-Star game.
During the 2018-19 season, Zupanc recorded 6 points (3 goals and 3 assists), in 12 regular season NAPHL games and four NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for Esmark's U15 squad.
"Ethan is an extremely gifted player," said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick, "his offensive skill set places him in the elite category."
"And as he continues to refine his game and continues to grow physically," Kosick added, "he has the skill set and capability to not only play Junior hockey ... but to excel in the Junior A environment."
Zupanc becomes the eight member of the 2021-2022 Esmark 18U AAA team to sign a tender with a Junior A club, joining teammates Ray Janik, defenseman, Islanders Hockey Club (NCDC); Keith Smilowitz, forward, and Liam McClaine, defenseman, who both signed with the Boston Jr. Advantage (NCDC); as well as forwards Shane Kozlina, North Iowa Bulls (NAHL); Hunter Fairman, Springfield Jr Blues (NAHL); and Justin McClain, Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL); and defenseman Liam Varmecky, Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (NAHL).
The Knights, who return to Junior A hockey in the USPHL's "Tuition Free" NCDC Conference, after a couple year hiatus from elite Junior A hockey, will be based out of Pittston, PA, and play in the seven-team NCDC South Division.