The Esmark Stars of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that 18U forward Nathan Hilzendeger has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Kenai River Brown Bears of the NAHL’s Midwest Division.
Hilzendeger, 19, who completed his second year at 18U, recorded 9 points (6 goals, 3 assists), including one power-play goal, in 18 regular season NAPHL games this season, helping lead the Stars into the NAPHL Playoffs and their first 18U Dixon Cup as NAPHL league playoff champions. In the Star's five playoff game run to the Dixon Cup, he recorded an additional three assists.
Post-season, Hilzendeger was selected to and participated in the 2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament were he recorded 2 points (1 goal and 1 assist), including a game winning goal, in four games. The event which featured eight teams comprised of some of the top U18 AAA players in the world , including two teams from the NAPHL, was held in conjunction with the 2018 NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship.
Overall during the 2017-18 season, the 6’3" / 215 lbs. native of Washington, PA, recorded 36 points (20 goals, 16 assists) in 61 games, including three power-play goals, and finished with a +25 plus/minus rating for the Stars U18 AAA team.
During the 2016-17 campaign, Hilzendeger recorded 7 points (5 goals, 2 assists), including one power-play goal, in 25 NAPHL regular season and playoff games. Overall, he recorded 22 points (13 goals, 6 assists) in 56 games, including three power play goals for the U18 Stars.
"Hilzy has demonstrated that perseverance pays off," said Stars 18U head coach Dave Kosick. "He has worked his backside off each and every day."
"He also understood that you can't be in a hurry," Kosick added.
"Today, so many new U18 players are in a rush to get a tender without putting in the work and time necessary to develop the skill set and game that junior clubs are looking to see."
Hilzendeger is the sixth player from this year’s Esmark Stars 18U team who has signed an NAHL tender agreement, joining Jared (J.T.) Schmizzi and Parker Brown (Fairbanks Ice Dogs); Ethan Webb and Andrew Murphy (Johnstown Tomahawks); and Blake Rossi (Amarillo Bulls).
A tender is a contract, of sorts, a player signs announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only. Once a player signs a tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team. Each team is granted ten (10) tenders, which include two (2) tenders exclusively used on players from the NAPHL - plus or minus any trades - which became active on Nov. 1. Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft, which will be held on June 5, 2018