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Recent U18 AAA Esmark Stars News

Alex Thomas and Jacob Stock Honored

Pittsburgh, PA - Two members of the 2023-24 Esmark Stars U18 Midget AAA squad have been recognized by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as part of the Post-Gazette's Annual Stellar Six Hockey Team for their work in the Pittsburgh Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL).

Alex Thomas, Norwin High School, and Jacob Stock, Thomas Jefferson High School, were both selected as members of the top six local high school players and make up 1/3 of the squad for the 2023-24 season.

Thomas, selected as the 2024 Post-Gazette Stellar 6 Player of the Year, has been a dominant player ever since he stepped on the ice for the Knights. He led the team to its first PIHL Class 1A Penguins Cup title and a berth in the state championship game two years ago as a sophomore, led the PIHL in scoring as a junior and, despite moving up in classification, led the league again this season.

He is the first player in PIHL history to lead the league in scoring in consecutive years while playing in two classifications.

If that wasn’t enough, on Jan. 20, he was in Greeley, Colo., on the ice and in uniform playing junior hockey. Thomas played in a home game for the Colorado Grit of the North American Hockey League against the New Mexico Ice Wolves.

“It’s honestly been a lot of fun,” Thomas said. “I never expected any of the junior things. It was a dream at first, and becoming a reality, it was extremely exciting.”

As a sophomore in the 2021-22 season, Thomas showed flashes of what was to come. He finished in the top 25 in the PIHL in overall scoring and 13th in Class 1A with 21 goals and 35 points. However, it was in the postseason when he really came into his own. He finished with four goals and seven points in three playoff games, including a pair of goals in the Knights’ 5-0 victory against McDowell in the Penguins Cup final to win the program’s first championship.

Last season, he took his place among the best in the area. In 18 regular-season games, he scored 38 goals, added 32 assists for 70 points and added four goals in two playoff games, including a pair in a 7-3 loss to Fox Chapel in the semifinals. He also was selected to the Stellar 6.

Norwin appeared to be set for a second title in three years in Class 1A before news came down the Knights would be moved up to Class 2A as part of the league’s annual realignment.

Despite the tougher competition in the higher classification, Thomas still led the top three classes of the PIHL in scoring with 32 goals and 61 points. He had 19 points, including a league-high 14 assists, on the power play and scored four short-handed goals.

Norwin made it to the Class 2A semifinals before bowing out against rival Penn-Trafford.

Even so, Thomas already saw his future when he went to Colorado to play for the Grit. And he has a pretty good idea what to do to succeed at the next level and the legacy he’s leaving behind.

Stock led the PIHL Class 2A regular-season co-champions Jaguars with 45 points and was a key to Thomas Jefferson winning their second Penguins Cup title in three years. He had five-point nights, including hat tricks, in both the Penguins Cup semifinals against Franklin Regional and the championship game against Penn-Trafford. After being shut out in the season opener he scored in every game he dressed for this season.

- Credit, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Keith Barnes, Tri-State Sports and News Service

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18U DEFENSEMAN COMMITS TO NAHL CLUB

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League have announced that Esmark Stars 18U AAA Hockey defenseman Mark Trischler has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Kenai River (AK) Brown Bears.

"Mark is a gifted player,” said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick, “who matches his physical talent with a highly cerebral approach. He is an outstanding two-way defenseman who can both contribute in the offensive zone, while applying a solid defensive approach.”

The 18-year-old defenseman from Canonsburg, PA, recorded 14 points (2 goals and 12 assists), in 12 T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and 5 Dixon Cup Playoff Games in helping lead the U18 Stars to the League's Regular Season and Playoff Championships.

Overall the 6'1" / 170 lbs. defenseman tallied 43 points (8 goals, 35 assists), including one power play goal, in 61 games played for Esmark's U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

He was also named to the 2024 NAT1HL U18 Top Prospects event and picked up an assist in that showcase event.

The 2023-24 season was Trischler’s third season with the Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program.

During the 2022-23 season, Trischler recorded 10 points (2 goals and 12 assists), in 12 T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and 4 Dixon Cup Playoff Games for Esmark’s U18 squad.

Overall during the 2022-23 season, Trischler tallied 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists), including seven power play goals, in 70 games played for Esmark's U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

During the 2022-23 season, Trischler recorded 11 points (4 goals and 11 assists), including two power play goals, in 24 NAPHL North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and Dixon Cup Playoff Games for Esmark’s U16 squad.

Overall during the 2022-23 season, Trischler tallied 19 points (4 goals, 15 assists), including two power play goals, in 53 games played for Esmark's U16 AAA Midget Minor squad.

“Mark is well respected within the locker room,” Kosick added. “Combining his leadership capabilities with his high hockey IQ and you get a kid with a maturity level off the charts, who is determined to succeed … all attributes that should help him succeed in Kenai River” 

Trischler becomes the ninth member of the 2023-2024 Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program to sign a tender with a Junior A club for the upcoming season.

Trischler joins 18U teammates Aiden Petroff (New Hampshire Mountain Kings), Alex Thomas (Colorado Grit), Timur Naletov (Danbury Hat Tricks), Max Rutkowski (Oklahoma Warriors) and Mykyta Yalovyi (Lone Star Brahmas), as well as 16U Esmark forwards Emmet McClaine and Vitaliy Ulianov, who both signed with the Johnstown Tomahawks, in signing tender agreements with the NAHL teams; and Hunter Furman, who signed a tender agreement with the Northern Cyclones National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) in the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL).

Kenai River is in the NAHL's eight-team Midwest Division along with the Anchorage Wolverines (AK), Janesville Jets (WI), Chippewa Steel (WI), Wisconsin Windego (WI), Minnesota Wilderness (MN), Fairbanks Ice Dogs (AK) and Springfield Jr Blues (IL).

The Brown Bears play in the Soldotna Regional sports Complex in Soldotna, AK, and are led by Head Coach Taylor Shaw.

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JACKSON FURMAN TENDERS WITH NORTHERN CYCLONES

By DLG 03/19/2024, 8:30pm EDT

18U FORWARD COMMITS TO NCDC CLUB

Pittsburgh, PA - The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League have announced that Esmark Stars 18U AAA Hockey forward Jackson Furman has signed a United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) tender agreement with the Northern Cyclones.

The 18-year-old forward from Westerville, OH, recorded seven points (3 goals and 4 assists), in 12 T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and 5 Dixon Cup Playoff Games in helping lead the U18 Stars to the League's Regular Season Crown and Playoff Championships.

Overall, the 5'11" / 170 lbs. forward tallied 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists), including one power play goal and two game-winning goals, in 68 games played for Esmark's U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

The 2023-24 season was Furman’s second season with the Esmark Stars program.

During the 2022-23 season, Furman recorded 15 points (10 goals and 5 assists), in 12 T1ER North American Prospects Hockey League regular season games and 4 Dixon Cup Playoff Games.

Overall during the ’22-’23 campaign, Furman tallied 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists), including two power play goals, in 62 games played for Esmark's U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

"Jackson is a true Swiss Army knife,” said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick. "His skill set and on-ice compete level allowed us to use him in all settings … from special teams (penalty kill and power play) to end-of-game scenarios. He brings such a tenacity and desire to succeed to each game and practice that will not allow him to be outworked. That skill set and his drive to succeed should afford him a bright Junior opportunity."

In addition to his success on the ice, Furman was also selected as an All-State Lacrosse player in the state of Ohio last season.

Furman becomes the eight member of the 2023-2024 Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program to sign a tender with a Junior A club for the upcoming season, and the first to sign a NCDC tender, as he joins 18U teammates Aiden Petroff (New Hampshire Mountain Kings), Alex Thomas (Colorado Grit), Timur Naletov (Danbury Hat Tricks), Max Rutkowski (Oklahoma Warriors) and Mykyta Yalovyi (Lone Star Brahmas), as well as 16U Esmark forwards Emmet McClaine and Vitaliy Ulianov, who both signed with the Johnstown Tomahawks, who have all previously signed tender agreements with the NAHL teams.

The Norther Cyclones are in the six-team New England Division of the USPHL’s 18-team NCDC Division, along with the Boston Junior Bruins, Islanders Hockey Club (MA), Twin City Thunder (ME), South Shore Kings (MA) and Utica (NY) Comets.

The Northern Cyclones play in the Cyclones Arena in Hudson, NH, and are led by Head Coach Bill Flanagan.

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