Pittsburgh, PA - Pittsburgh-based Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club has announced that two members of the 2022-23 Stars U15 squad and a new addition to the 2023-24 Stars U18 squad were selected in the 2023 National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) Entry draft, held on Tuesday, April 25.
Esmark players elected in the 2022 NCDC Entry draft included: Vitalii Uliano, forward, (selected in the seventh round, Jersey Hitmen; Emmet McClaine, forward, (selected in the eighth round), Jersey Hitmen; and Ethan Keller, forward, (selected in the 13th round), Idaho Falls Spud Kings.
Both Ulianov and McClaine skated for the U15 Esmark Stars during the 2022-23 season, under the direction of Head Coach Chris Stern.
Keller, who skated for the Ohio Jr BlueJackets U16 squad last season, was selected at tryouts to Esmark's U18 team for the 2023-24 season.
Both Ulianov and McClaine were selected to Esmark's U16 team for the upcoming season.
The NCDC is a 20-team tuition-free Junior A hockey league that operates as part of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL). The NCDC East has 14 teams and is located in the Northeastern United States. While the NCDC West is new Division with 6-teams and is located in the Western United States.
Similar to the NHL's Entry Draft, NCDC teams use the draft to help build towards future years teams. Players born between 2006 and 2007 were eligible to be drafted in the 2023 NCDC's Entry draft.
“The idea behind the NCDC Draft is that our clubs are looking long term at younger players," said Commissioner Bob Turow.
"With many of the selected players being from outside of our league footprint, it allows us to better inform players about the benefits of the our Tier II Tuition-Free NCDC and our pathway to college hockey,” Turow added.