skip navigation
2021 National Championships

Recent U18 AAA Esmark Stars News

Strobel Tenders with Amarillo Wranglers

By DLG 07/12/2021, 6:30pm EDT

Esmark Stars 18U Goaltender Signs NAHL Tender

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that 18U goaltender Connor Strobel has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Amarillo Wranglers.

The 18-year old Butler, PA, native, shared duties in net for the U18 AAA Stars for both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons and helped guide the Esmark 18U AAA program to back-to-back spots in the USA Hockey National Championships (as the 2019-20 18U Tier I Mid-American District Champion and as a 18U Tier I "at-large" selection for the '20-'21 season).

Following the 2019-20 season, Strobel, a 2020 graduate of Butler High School, was tendered by the NAHL's Johnstown Tomahawks. He was returned to Esmark in December of last season, to get additional playing time and work in, and then returned to Johnstown as an "affiliate player" after the conclusion of the 2021 USA Hockey Nationals.

In three NAHL starts for the Tomahawks, Strobel recorded a 1-1-0-1 record with a .884 save percentage and a goals against average (GAA) of 3.66.

During the '20-'21 season, Strobel (6'2", 170 lbs.), recorded a record of 15-7-2-0 in 25 overall appearances with the U18 Stars, with a .928 save percentage and a goals against average (GAA) of 2.12, including two shutouts. In five regular season NAPHL appearances this past season, he had a 2-3-0-0 record, with a .906 save percentage and a goals against average (GAA) of 2.73. And in two NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff appearances, he recorded a 2-0-0-0 record, with a .964 save percentage and a goals against average (GAA) of 1.08.

During the 2019-20 season, Strobel recorded a record of 27-2-4-1 in 35 overall appearances with the U18 Stars, had a .936 save percentage and a goals against average (GAA) of 1.75, including seven shutouts and three assists. In nine regular season NAPHL appearances, he recorded a 7-0-0-1 record, with a .940 save percentage, a goals against average (GAA) of 1.50, and three shutouts. And in four NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff appearances, he recorded a 3-1-0-0 record, with a .859 save percentage, and a goals against average (GAA) of 3.42. 

"During the past two seasons, Connor has certainly demonstrated that he among the upper realm of elite goaltenders in the nation," said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick.

"He has a perfect pulse for the goaltender position," Kosick added, "regardless of the situation, he simply does not get rattled."

Prior to joining the U18 squad, Strobel tended the nets for the U16 Esmark Stars during the 2018-19 season. During the 2018-19 NAPHL 16U season, Strobel had an overall record of 23-11-2-0, with a .913 save percentage, a goals against average (GAA) of 2.34, including five shutouts, in 35 appearances. That included a 8-6-0-0 record, with a .889 save percentage, a goals against average (GAA) of 2.36, with three shutouts, in 14 regular season and NAPHL Dixon Cup playoff appearances.

Strobel will join teammate John Camp, who also signed a tender with the Wranglers, in Amarillo for the upcoming season.

"Connor helped get my club to the USA Hockey Nationals in consecutive season," Kosick added. "He will give Amarillo a goaltender who knows what it takes to climb to the top of the mountain in a tough Southern Division." 

The Wranglers, who are relocating to Amarillo from Kansas City and rebranding from the Kansas City Scouts to the Amarillo Wranglers, beginning with the '21-'22 season, will play in the eight-team NAHL South Division.

Strobel, becomes the eighth member of the 2020-2021 Esmark AAA team to sign a tender with an NAHL club, and the ninth '20-'21 Esmark player overall to sign a Junior A tender offer.

He joins teammates Nathan Dickey, goaltender, Kenai River Brown Bears; Ryder Brophy, forward, Lone Star Brahmas; Yahor Ramanau, defenseman, Wichita Warriors; Michael Felsing, forward, Minnesota Wilderness; Dominic Dezort, El Paso Rhinos; Zachary Stoner, Johnstown Tomahawks; and John Camp, forward, Amarillo Wranglers, in signing tenders with NAHL Junior A clubs for the 2021-2022 season and teammate Edward Pazo, forward, who signed a tender offer with the Northern Cyclones of the USPHL's NCDC Division.

Camp tenders with NAHL's Amarillo Wranglers

By DLG 07/02/2021, 2:30pm EDT

Esmark Stars 18U Forward Signs NAHL Tender

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that former 18U forward John Camp has signed a NAHL tender agreement with the NAHL's Amarillo (TX) Wranglers.

A native of McMurray, PA, the 18-year old graduate of Peters Township High School has skated for the Stars for three seasons, two seasons with Esmark's U18 team and one season with their 16U team.

During the 2020-21 season, Camp (5'10", 165 lbs.) registered 18 points (10 goals, 8 assists), including four power play goals, one shorthanded goal and one game-winning-goal, in 20 regular season NAPHL games and 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist), in five NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for the U18 AAA Stars.

Overall during the '20-'21 season, Camp, who helped lead the 18U Stars into their third consecutive USA Hockey Tier I U18 National Championship field, registered 63 points (31 goals, 32 assists), including 6 power play goals and 1 shorthanded goal, in 71 games played.

During the 2019-20 season, Camp registered 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 9 regular season NAPHL games and 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in five NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for the U18 AAA Stars. Overall, he registered 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists), including 1 power play goal in 46 games played, helping lead Esmark’s Midget Major squad to the Mid-American District Championship and a spot as District Champions in the 2020 USA Hockey 18U Tier I National Championships.

During the 2018-19 season, Camp registered 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist), in 16 NAPHL regular season games and 3 points (3 goals) in four NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games for the Stars U16 AAA squad. Overall, he registered 21 points (14 goals, 7 assists), including 1 power play goal in 50 games played for Esmark.

"John is like the Energizer Bunny ... but with world-class skating speed," said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick.  "He is as tenacious a player as I have seen and he brings high energy and adrenaline into all game situations."

"Campy will be a great pick-up for the Wranglers," Kosick added. "His ability to fill many roles can make him an important asset to Amarillo."

Camp becomes the seventh member of the 2020-2021 Esmark AAA team to sign a tender with an NAHL club, and the eighth '20-'21 Esmark player overall to sign a Junior A tender offer.

He joins teammates Nathan Dickey, goaltender, Kenai River Brown Bears; Ryder Brophy, forward, Lone Star Brahmas; Yahor Ramanau, defenseman, Wichita Warriors; Michael Felsing, forward, Minnesota Wilderness; Dominic Dezort, El Paso Rhinos; and Zachary Stoner, Johnstown Tomahawks, in signing tenders with NAHL Junior A clubs for the 2021-2022 season and teammate Edward Pazo, who signed a tender offer with the Northern Cyclones of the USPHL's NCDC Division.

The Wranglers, who are relocating to Amarillo from Kansas City and rebranding from the Kansas City Scouts to the Amarillo Wranglers, beginning with the '21-'22 season, will play in the eight-team NAHL South Division.

U18 Esmark Stars Participate in Tier I National Championships

Pittsburgh, PA - The 18U Tier I AAA Esmark Stars were in Maryland Heights, MO, this past week to participate in the 2021 Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier I U18 National Championship Tournament.

The 16-team invitational tournament featured District Champions for 11 of USA Hockey's 12 Districts (the Massachusetts District opted out of holding a District Championship this season due to Covid-19, and five "At-Large" teams, as selected by USA Hockey based on their overall season performance.

The Pittsburgh-based Esmark Stars received one of the five "At-Large" Bids, as did fellow Mid-American Midget Major Clubs Culver Military Academy and the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, to participate in the 16-team invitational tournament to crown a National Champion for amateur hockey in the Tier I AAA U18 Division.

The Stars, who were ranked #12 in the nation entering the tournament, drew a tough draw in the Liberty Division, including Mount St. Charles (playing as the Rhode Island Saints), ranked #4, North Jersey Avalanche, ranked #5, and the Nashville Jr. Predators, ranked #9.

The Stars, who were seeded third in the bracket by USA Hockey, opened play, and the tournament, on Wednesday, April 28, dropping a 5-1 decision to Mount St. Charles Academy (Rhode Island Saints) at the Ice Zone Rink in Hazelwood, MO.  Ryder Brophy scored the lone Stars goal, with assists to Ed Pazo and Egor Busygin.  Connor Strobel suffered the loss in goal as Mount St. Charles scored three power-play goals on eight chances, while Esmark was 0 for 5 withe man-advantage.

The Stars returned to the ice on Thursday, April 29 in a must-win situation to be able to advance out of round-robin play, but ran into a buzz saw and dropped a 9-2 decision to the New Jersey Avalanche at the Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights, MO.  Ryder Brophy cut a 4-0 deficit by one with a power play goal late in the second period, with assists to Ed Pazo and Michael Felsing, but the Avalanche would find the back of the net before the second period horn to extend their lead back to four.  The Avs would turn the game into a rout with four third period goals as a demoralized Stars team saw their chance to advance to the quarter-finals come to an end.  Yahor Ramanau would score a power play goal in the third period, with Shane Miller and Adis Ultanbekov getting assists.  Nathan Dickey suffered the loss in goal.  The Stars were 2 for 3 on the power play while North Jersey was 1 for 6 with the man-advantage.

Esmark closed out their 2021 USA Hockey Nationals appearance with a 8-5 win over the Nashville Predators on Friday, April 30, back at the Ice Zone Rink in Hazelwood.  After quickly falling behind 2-0, the Stars went to work and scored four goals in the first period to grab a 4-2 lead. The Stars scored an apparent goal early in the second period, but the gaol was disallowed by the on-ice officials and Nashville quickly capitalized with a goal of their own to cut the lead to 4-3.  Midway through the second, Nashville would tally the equalizer and tie the game 4-4.  But the Stars would answer with a late second period goal and take a 5-4 lead to the locker room after two periods.  The Stars put the pedal down and would rattle off three straight goals in the third period to take an 8-4 lead.  Nashville would get a late goal to cut the final deficit to 8-5.

Adis Ultanbekov (2G, 1A) would lead the offense with a pair of goals, one on the power play and one shorthanded, and an assist.  Michael Felsing (1G, 2A), Zach Stoner (1G, 1A), Yahor Ramanau, Ethan Zupanc, Regan Kallis, and Ed Pazo also scored goals.  Cole Mitchell (3A), Ryder Brophy (3A), Liam Varmecky (2A), Justin Mettrick, John Camp and Keith Smilowitz all earned assists.  And Connor Strobel picked up the win in goal for the Stars.

Ultanbekov, Stoner, Felsing and Pazo all scored power play goals as the Stars went 4 for 7 on the power play.  And Ultanbekov and Kallis each recorded shorthanded goals, as the Stars held Nashville to an 0-for-5 with the man-advantage.

Both Mount St Charles (Rhode Island) and North Jersey advanced from the Liberty bracket to the quarterfinals.  Mount St. Charles (Rhode Island) would win their quarter-final game and advance to the National semi-finals before falling to eventual National Champion Rochester Coalition.  North Jersey would win both their quarter-final and semi-final games, before falling to Rochester in the Championship game.

The (1-2-0-0) showing at the USA Hockey National Tournament wrapped up the Stars 2021-22 season with an overall record of (44-20-7-0). 

"The boys played hard," said head coach Dave Kosick.  "We knew we had a very tough draw but felt good going into the tournament."

"Our rust showed in game one against Mount St. Charles, and we got ourselves into to deep of a hole to get out of," Kosick said.

"And the game with North Jersey was a win or else proposition, he continued.  "We were competitive with the Avalanche and had cut their lead late in the second period, but we gave up a back breaker goal late in the period ... and the third period the guys knew their Nationals dream was over and it showed."

"But rather than quit, we pulled ourselves back up by the boot straps and completed the journey with a good win to end the season."

This was the third straight season that the 18U AAA Esmark Stars AAA team had earned an automatic spot, or was named to the field, for USA Hockey's 18U Tier I National Championships.

Esmark claimed the Mid-American 18U Tier I title the past two seasons, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, and the automatic spot in the National Championships as Mid-Am District Champions, and was selected as an "At-Large" team for this year's event.

Unfortunately, last season's National Championship was cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.