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The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club, proud members of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL), are pleased to announce that Esmark Stars U16 AAA Hockey defenseman Ryan Hastings has committed to play hockey for the Kanata Lasers Jr. A club for this upcoming season.
The Lasers, members of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) are located in Kanata, Ontario, just outside of Ottawa City. The Lasers compete in the CCHL's Robinson Division.
The 6’0”/175 lbs. native of Apollo, PA, led Esmark's U16 defenseman in team NAPHL scoring during the 2017-18 season with 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists in 17 regular season games, including 4 power play goals. He added 1 assist in four NAPHL playoff games. He also skated for the East team at the 2018 16U NAPHL All-Star game and scored a goal.
Overall, Hastings, who captained the U16 Stars to the Mid-American District championship and a spot at the 2018 USA Hockey National Championships in Philadelphia, PA, recorded 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists) in 52 games for the Stars.
During the 2016-17 season, Hastings recorded 15 points (2 goals, 13 assists) in 77 games for the U16 Stars, including 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 27 NAPHL games. He helped lead the Stars to their first ever Dixon Cup as league 16U playoff champions of the NAPHL during the '16-'17 season.
Hastings began his Stars career skating for the Stars U13 team during the 2014-15 season. He would then go on to skate for the Stars U15 team during the 2015-16 season.
"Ryan has worked hard for this opportunity,” said Esmark's 16U head coach Yuri Krivokhija. “He is a high-skilled defenseman with a high hockey IQ."
The Pittsburgh-based Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club is the oldest Tier I (AAA) program in the Mid-Am District (Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania) of USA Hockey and one of the oldest Tier I (AAA) programs in the nation.
For 34 years the Stars program has provided elite amateur ice hockey players the opportunity to be showcased on a local, national and international level.
The CCHL began as a development league founded by the Montreal Canadiens in 1961. Seeking a place in Ontario for its' prospects, the league was built and used as a prime source until the draft system changed in the late sixties. By the seventies, CCHL teams were among the best in Canada. A reemphasis on development took place in the eighties when the league created rules and regulations that ensured younger rosters and an emphasis on development.This philosophy remains today, as the CCHL annually sends a large number of young players to higher levels.
Players from across North America have enjoyed success playing in the Central Canada Hockey League. Utilizing the league as a stepping stone, each season dozens of players accept Division I and III NCAA hockey scholarships, as well as spots with Canada's U Sports, Canada's governing body for university sports, which is the highest level of play at the Canadian university level.
In addition, young players advance every year to the Ontario Hockey League and most seasons there are selections from the CCHL directly to the National Hockey League.
Centrally located in the Ottawa region, the Lasers play a 62 game league schedule.
The CCHL has been home to dozens of NHL stars, including Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Patrick Sharp and Jimmy Howard.
The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club, proud members of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL), are pleased to announce that goaltender Nico Pidro has committed to play NCAA Division III hockey for Wilkes University in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC).
Pidro, from Canonsburg, PA, earned back-to-back Dixon Cup Championships with Stars as he helped guide the 18U Stars to their first Dixon Cup Championship this past season and the U16 Stars to their first Dixon Cup Championship during the 2016-17 season.
He was the winning goaltender in both NAPHL Playoff Championship games, defeating the 18U Tampa Scorpions 5-2 for the '17-'18 18U crown and earning the shutout and 1-0 win over the 16U Rocky Mountain RoughRiders for the '16-'17 16U crown.
During the 2017-18 campaign, the 6'2", 195 lbs. goaltender, appeared in 34 games for the U18 AAA Stars, compiling an 18-11-1-4 record with a goals against average (GAA) of 2.42 and a save percentage of .882. He also recorded 3 shut-outs.
Those numbers included appearances in eight regular season NAPHL games where he complied a 3-2-0-3 record with a goals against average (GAA) of 1.96 and a save percentage of .906 and a 2-1-0-0 record with a goals against average (GAA) of 1.67 and a save percentage of .930 in three Dixon Cup Playoff appearances.
During the 2016-17 season, Pidro skated for Esmark's U16 squad where he compiled a 6-4-0-1 record with a goals against average (GAA) of 2.25 and a save percentage of .904 in 11 regular season games and a 4-0-0-0 record with a goals against average (GAA) of 1.25 and a save percentage of .942 and two shutouts in four Dixon Cup Playoff appearances.
"Nico will be a great fit for the Colonels," said Esmark U18 AAA head coach Dave Kosick. "He obviously demonstrated over the past two seasons that he is a big game goaltender."
Wilkes, which is located in Wilkes-Barre, PA, will make its program debut Oct. 26 in Canton, NY, in a non-conference matchup against SUNY Canton. The game will be part of an ambitious 25-game regular-season schedule, which includes 18 games in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC).
The UCHC consists of Chatham University (PA), Elmira College (NY), King's College (PA), Lebanon Valley College (PA), Manhattanville College (NY), Nazareth College (NY), Neumann University (PA), Stevenson University (MD), and Utica College (NY).
Wilkes will also play eight games in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC). The MAC has served as Wilkes' primary conference since 1947 and the Colonels will be joined in the UCHC by fellow MAC members King's, Lebanon Valley, Manhattanville and Stevenson.
Pittsburgh, PA - Former Esmark Stars AAA Hockey goaltender Jake Kucharski was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes on Day Two of the 2018 NHL Draft.
The 6’4"/193 lbs. native of Erie, PA, who began his climb up the ladder of development with the Esmark program's U16 club during the 2015-16 season, was selected in the seventh round, 197th overall.
During the '15-'16 season, Kucharski posted a 1.77 goals against average and .917 save percentage for the Stars, including three shut-outs, in 14 NAPHL games. Overall, in 32 Esmark 16U AAA game appearances, he finished with a .896% save percentage and a a 2.41 GAA with five shut-outs.
After the '15-'16 season, Kucharski signed a tender agreement with the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). In addition, he was also selected in the ninth round of the 2016 USHL Draft, pick #140, by the Chicago Steele.
Kucharski spent most of the 2016-17 with Austin. where he played in 34 games with a save percentage of .894 and posted a goals against average of 3.31.
During the 2017-18 campaign, Kucharski skated for the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL, where he is expected to return next season.
Kucharski has also signed a letter of commitment to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Providence Friars beginning with the 2019-20 season.
"I was very proud to see Jake get selected in the Draft," said Esmark Stars U16 head coach Yuri Krivokhija, who himself was selected by the Montreal Canadians in the 10th round of the 1988 NHL draft. "He has worked really hard and stayed focused on achieving his goal," Krivokhija added, "and he is now one step closer to reaching it,"
Kucharski joins former Stars players Grant Lewis (2004 draft, second round, 40th overall) and Miles Liberati (2013 Draft, seventh round, 205th overall) in being selected in the annual NHL draft.
"As both Lewis and Liberati did, Jake has parlayed the opportunity that playing with the Stars provided him ... to chase his dreams all the way to the NHL Draft," said Stars founder and General Manager Dave Kosick. "Proving that dreams, mixed with sweat and hard work, can come true."