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Recent U16 AAA Esmark Stars News

Stawiarski and Amaranto Honored; Krivokhija Named Coach of the Year

The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) has announced its All-NAPHL T1ER 16U Teams for the Central, East, and West Divisions for the 2021-22 season.

Consideration and selection were based on player performance in all NAPHL regular season and playoff games throughout the 2021-22 season.

The 16U Esmark Stars AAA Hockey team had two players, forward Aaron Stawiarski and goaltender Iannico Amaranto, named to the All-NAPHL Tier I 16U-Central Team for the 2021-22 season. 

In 24 regular season 2021-22 NAPHL appearances, Stawiarski, who is from Upper St Clair, PA, recorded 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) including one power-play goal, one shorthanded goal and two game-winning goals, helping the Stars U16 squad capture the NAPHL Regular Season Championship. He added six points (3 goals, 3 assists) in six Dixon Cup NAPHL Playoff games, helping lead the Stars to the NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff Championship.

Overall, Stawiarski, a Junior at Upper St Clair High School, recorded 58 points (26 goals, 32 assists), including one power-play goal and two shorthanded goals, in 67 games played.

"Aaron earned his spot on the All NAPHL team by dominating as a power forward," said Stars 16U Head Coach Yuri Krivokhija. "He was a force on the ice and our opponents struggled to contain him."

Amaranto, who is from Johnstown, PA, recorded a record of 12-3-0-1, with a goals against average (GAA) of 1.25, an overall save percentage of .943, recording five shutouts in 16 regular season NAPHL games played, helping lead the U16 Stars to the 2021-22 NAPHL Regular Season Title. Additionally, Amaranto recorded a record of 5-1-0-0 with a goals against average (GAA) of 0.50, a save percentage of .977, with three shutouts in six NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff games played., helping lead the U16 Stars to the NAPHL Dixon Cup Playoff Championship. He capped off the Dixon Cup Playoff Championship run with a 1-0 shutout win over Des Moines in the NAPHL Championship game.

Overall, Amaranto, a Junior at Westmont Hilltop High School, recorded a record of 34-14-4-2 with a goals against average (GAA) of 1.53, a save percentage of .932, recording 15 shutouts, in 55 games played. 

"Ian had a great season and led our team to both the Regular Season and League Playoff Championship," Krivokhija said. " He demonstrated that he is truly among the premier goaltenders in the country."

Additionally, Krivokhija was named the NAPHL 16U AAA Coach of the Year as he led the 16U AAA Esmark Stars to a 19-3-0-2 regular season record and the 2021-22 NAPHL Regular Season Title and the 2022 NAPHL 16U AAA Dixon Cup Championship Title.

Konevych Selected in 2022 USHL Draft

By DLG 05/16/2022, 3:00pm EDT

Stars U16 D-Man selected by Tri-City Storm

Pittsburgh, PA - Congratulations to Esmark Stars U16 defenseman Nikita Konevych who was selected by the Tri-City Storm in the 2022 Phase II USHL Draft held on May 2, 2022.

Konevych, a 6'2" / 176 lbs defenseman, from Kalush, Ukraine, joined the Stars program last season.

The United States Hockey League (USHL) is the top junior ice hockey league sanctioned by USA Hockey. The league consists of 16 active teams, located in the midwestern United States, including the Storm, who are located in Kearney, Nebraska.

The USHL Draft takes place during the first week of May each year and is completed in two Phases.

Phase I of the Draft is ten rounds of “Futures” age players only, which are U-17 players for next year’s season (2006 birth year players only for the 2022 Draft).

Phase II of the Draft, which takes place the following day, is open to players of all ages eligible to play junior hockey who are not currently protected by another USHL team.  Teams will fill their roster to a total of 45 players on this date; this includes players who were previously on a team’s Affiliate List. The total number of players that a team will draft will vary depending on the number of Affiliate players a team may have.

All veteran roster players from the 2020-21 season are automatically protected by their current team, separate from the list of 45 players.

Esmark Stars U16 Win NAPHL T1ER One Championship

By DLG 02/21/2022, 11:00pm EST

Stars Midget Minor Squad Capture NAPHL's Dixon Cup Championship

Troy, MI - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey U16 (Midget Minor) AAA squad captured the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) T1ER One Dixon Cup Playoff Championship in Troy, MI, this past weekend (Feb. 18 - 21).

The Stars, who grabbed the league's number one playoff seed by winning the NAPHL Regular season title (winning percentage) posted a 2-1-0-0 record in round-robin play to advance to the league's playoff elimination rounds where they would capture three straight wins, including a 1-0 win over the Des Moines Buccaneers in the NAPHL T1ER One Championship game on Monday, Feb. 21, to claim the league's championship.

The Stars opened round-robin play with a 7-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday, Jan. 18, at the Troy Sports Complex in Troy, MI.  Joshua Coffee (2G, 1A), Nathan Burlando (1G, 1A), Aaron Stawiarski (1G, 1A), Colin Ruffner, Billy Kiray III, and Caden Lindo Canfield scored goals for the Stars. Zakary Wilcox (2A), Wesley Schwarzmiller (2A), Max Rutkowski and Aiden Briggs picked up assists. Ian Amaranto stopped all 13 shots he faced to pick up the win and shutout in goal.

The Stars grabbed an identical 7-0 win over the New Hampshire Jr Avalanche on Saturday (Jan. 19) morning back at the Troy Sports Complex in their second game of round-robin action. Aaron Stawiarski (2G, 1A), Nathan Burlando (1G, 1A), Max Rutkowski (1G, 1A), Wesley Schwarzmiller (1G, 1A), Zak Wilcox and Colin Ruffner scored the Stars goals. Billy Kiray III (2A), Aiden Briggs and Caden Lindo Canfield added assists. Ian Amaranto stopped all 21 shots he faced to pick up his second win and shutout in goal for the Stars.

The win guaranteed the Stars a spot in the playoffs elimination round with one round-robin game remaining against the Des Moines Buccaneers, at the Troy Sports Complex, to determine the final seeding from Division I on Saturday evening. 

Des Moines would grab a 2-0 shutout win and the top seed from Division I as Buccaneers goaltender Gabe Owen stopped all 29 Esmark shots he faced to earn the win and shutout in goal. Stars goalie Ian Amaranto would stop 21 of 22 shots he faced, but suffered the loss in goal. Des Moines closed out the scoring with an empty net goal with :44 seconds remaining in the third period.

The Stars U16 squad advanced to the Dixon Cup quarter-finals as the number 2 seed from Division I, where they would grab a 4-1 win over Division IV number 1 seed Maine Nordiques on Sunday morning at the Troy Sports Complex. Nathan Burlando, Aiden Briggs, Colin Ruffner and Joshua Coffee scored the Stars goals. Ilya Zhdanov, Aaron Stawiarski, Rory Shegan Siniawski and Billy Kiray III all picked up assists. Goaltender Ian Amaranto stopped 16 of the 17 shots he faced to pick up the quarter-final win for the Stars.

The quarter-final win propelled the Stars into a Dixon Cup semi-finals showdown with the Northstar Christian Academy Knights on Sunday evening. And that game would be a game for the ages, played out in front of a standing room only crowd at the Suburban Ice Arena in Macomb, MI. It would also be a repeat of the 2021 16U Dixon Cup semi-finals where the two clubs also also met in the league's 16U Dixon Cup semi-finals, with Northstar winning the game 3-2 in an overtime shootout.

This time, however, the Stars would return the favor.

Nathan Burlando scored the Stars lone regulation goal, his fifth straight game with a goal, as he buried a rebound on a shot from Max Rutkowski into the Knights net 12:26 into the third period. However, Bronson Hunt would knot the score at 1-1 with :22 seconds remaining in regulation play, as Northstar pulled their goalie and took advantage of their six skaters on the ice, to forge a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation. The two clubs then skated to a scoreless five minute, 5-on-5 overtime, and then a five minute, 3-on-3 overtime. To force a 3-man shootout to decide the game. However, the first three shooters for each team were denied, as Stars goaltender Ian Amaranto and Knights goalie Beck Liden took turns denying each team's penalty shot shooters. This forced the shootout into sudden death.  Both goaltenders continued their dominate performance through an additional three rounds. However, in round seven, Nathan Burlando would again find the back of the net to give the Stars the lead. And Amaranto would close the deal stopping his seventh straight Knights' shootout shooter and give the Stars a 2-1 win and a spot in the NAPHL U16 Championship game and a rematch with the Des Moines Buccaneers. For the game, Amaranto stopped 40 of the 41 Knights shots he faced, plus the seven shootout shots, to earn the win in goal.

In the Championship game on Monday morning, at the Troy Sports Complex, Nathan Burlando would continued his goal scoring streak, converting a breakaway pass from Billy Kiray III at the 14:27 mark of period one to give the Stars a 1-0 lead. Ilya Zhdanov also picked up an assist on the Burlando goal. That first period goal would stand up as the Stars would hold on for a 1-0 Dixon Cup U16 T1ER One Championship victory. Ian Amaranto stopped all 15 Des Moines shots he faced to pick up his fifth win, and third shutout, of the playoffs for the Stars. For the game, the Stars outshot Des Moines 28-15.

The U16 win was the second NAPHL Dixon Cup Championship for the Stars Midget Minor teams (2022 and 2017). The Stars have also previously claimed NAPHL Championships at both the U18 Midget Major (2018) and Pee Wee Minor levels (2022).

At the 2022 NAPHL T1ER One Playoffs, both the Stars U14 Bantam Major squad and the U18 Midget Major squad advanced out of round-robin play and into the championship rounds. The Bantam Minor squad, who finished round-robin play 3-0-0-0, was knocked out in the semi-finals by Car Shield AAA, 4-3, and the Stars Midget Major squad would fall in the quarter-finals, 2-1, to Biggby Coffee U18 AAA.