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Pittsburgh Viper Hockey Announces New Tier II Initiative

By DAG, 03/20/18, 4:45PM EDT


Pittsburgh Viper Stars Tier II Hybrid Program

The North Hills Amateur Hockey Association (NHAHA), parent organization of Pittsburgh Viper Hockey and Esmark Stars AAA Hockey, has unveiled a new initiative designed to establish a new high-level Tier II select hockey program that will bridge the gap between elite Tier I (AAA) travel hockey and house / rec hockey.

The new program will revise a name, Pittsburgh Viper Stars, that had previously been associated with the organization’s Tier I (AAA) teams.  The Viper Stars name was converted to its current name, Esmark Stars AAA Hockey, five years ago.

“The naming convention was easy,” said NHAHA President, Heather Ruffner, “we envision this program, that while filling a void between our two existing programs … Vipers and Stars, will also create a new and unique opportunity to the western Pennsylvania market.”

The Pittsburgh Viper Stars will be a Tier II (AA) select program that provide a fun, healthy and competitive atmosphere in which players can strive to be their best, mixed with a high-end training regimen usually reserved for Tier I AAA programs.  As defined, the two main goals of the program will be to develop elite athletes who play hockey at the Tier II level, as well as to compete for National Championships at age appropriate Tier II levels, recognized by USA Hockey.

The Viper Stars program will offer a training program mirrored on the Esmark Tier I program, including training opportunities, both on and off the ice, currently not provided to most Tier II players and programs.

“We look to achieve these goals by providing experienced coaching … both game and skills coaches … innovative training, and a quality practice-to-game ratio,” Ruffner added.

And like both Pittsburgh Viper Hockey and Esmark Stars AAA Hockey programs, the new Pittsburgh Viper Stars program will call the Pittsburgh Ice Arena home.

The Viper Stars teams are scheduled to participate in the Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League (PAHL), as well as a play an independent travel schedule.

Teams will be selected from a try-out process that will begin with the open tryouts for the Tier I Esmark Stars.  To register for tryouts for the Pittsburgh Viper Stars, prospective players will need to register at (

For additional information on the new Pittsburgh Viper Stars program or Pittsburgh Viper Hockey program, please visit (

Teams Offered for 2018 - 2019 Season:

  • Squirt Major (2008)
  • Peewee Minor (2007)
  • Peewee Major (2006)
  • Bantam Minor (2005)
  • National Bound Teams
  •      U-14 National Bound (2004)
  •      U-16 National Bound (2003 & 2002)
  •      U-18 National Bound (2001 & 2000)