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Esmark Stars

Ekberg Selected in NAHL Draft

The Johnstown Tomahawks selected Carter Ekberg, defenseman, from the AAA Esmark Stars, during the fourth round (81st overall) of the annual NAHL Draft, held on Tuesday, June 3.

Ekberg, who appeared in 24 regular and post season North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) games during the 2013-14 season, recorded 17 points (7 goals and 10 assists), including 2 power play goals, 4 power play assists, 1 shorthanded goal and 2 game winning goals in those contests.

A senior to be from Peters Township High School, Ekberg had previously been recognized by and received several honors from the NAPHL.  He was named to the 2013-14 All-NAPHL midget minor third team; he was named to the 2013-14 NAPHL All-Academic team (requiring student-athletes who must have achieved a minimum 3.75 GPA and certain academic standards for the 2013-14 school year and must have been nominated by a coach); was honored by the NAPHL as the second star, 16U Franklin Peak Performer (Defense), for his performance in the NAPHL's opening league showcase in Blaine, MN, in September; selected, along with Esmark teammate Kenny Dee, to participate in the league's Inaugural NAPHL All-Star Game, held during the league's third 16U Showcase at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, MN in December, where he recorded an assist in helping his Team Easton to a 6-3 win.

"Carter's continued performance over the past two seasons certainly has captured the attention of several NAHL and USHL teams," said Esmark Stars 16U head coach Yuri Krivokhija.  "I didn't think it was ever a matter of when, but rather a matter of where he would be selected."

In Johnstown, Ekberg will have an opportunity to make the squad and skate for new Tomahawk's head coach Mike Letizia.  The Tomahawks finished fourth in the North Division this past season and advanced to the NAHL Playoffs for their second consecutive season.

Having just completed its fifth season, the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL), continuee the tradition of player development towards the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

In the draft, five more NAPHL players were selected in addition to the 51 NAPHL players who signed NAHL tenders leading up to the draft. In total, 56 NAPHL players who played in the NAPHL during this past season now have their rights protected by NAHL teams for the 2014-15 season.

“The partnership between the NAPHL and the NAHL is like no other partnership currently in existence,” said NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “With a guaranteed scouting exposure at all events, which is also inclusive of our exclusive Event Scouting System, it provides an opportunity for the NAPHL players that are unique to the league’s structure and relationship with the NAHL.”

Year after year, the NAPHL takes part in the highest-profile events that the NAHL has to offer where scouting exposure is at its highest like the NAHL Showcase and the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.  These events are specifically designed to maximize the exposure of all the participants at all age levels thanks to not only the NAHL scouts and coaches, but the hundreds more of NCAA and NHL scouts that are in attendance at the biggest events.

The success of teams on the National stage, as well as, the success of NAPHL players at the next levels of hockey, is further proof that the NAPHL is redefining exposure and has elevated itself to one of the premier training grounds for development and opportunity.

Esmark Stars Honored for High Academic Achievement

The Esmark Stars have received post-season honors from the North American Prospect Hockey League (NAPHL), with 14 players (six from the U16 AAA and eight from the U18 AAA team) named to the 2013-14 All-NAPHL Academic team.

To qualify for the honor, student-athletes must have achieved a minimum 3.75 GPA and certain academic standards for the 2013-14 school year and must have been nominated by a coach.

Named to the 2013-14 All-NAPHL 16U AAA Academic Team from the Esmark Stars: Sam Barnes (Peters Township), Alec Bosnic (Bishop Canevin), Carter Ekberg (Peters Township), Beau Heakins (Mars Area), Jake Tepe (Pittsburgh Central Catholic) and Jordan Timmons (South Fayette).

Named to the 2013-14 All-NAPHL 18U AAA Academic Team from the Esmark Stars: Adam Alavi (Peters Township), Jonathan Dagnal (Peters Township), Cole Hepler (Freeport Area), Josef Kittelberger (Peters Township), Ryan Lottes (Quaker VAlley), Tristan Ramage (Peters Township), Jacob Worcester (Bethel Park) and Brendan Zack (Freeport Area).

"All of these young men deserve a standing ovation for being able to manage the rigors of a challenging AAA schedule while maintaing high academic achievement in the classroom," said Esmark Stars AAA Coordinator Dave Kosick.  "They not only managed to earn a high GPA, they did it without asking for special treatment or consideration.  They achieved in spite of the additional burdens that a AAA schedule can present."

"The Stars program has always stressed the need for our student athletes to maintain academic standards," Kosick added.  "Playing hockey should never be an excuse for failing in the classroom."

Baker and Alavi Honored by NAPHL

The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) has announced All-NAPHL First, Second and Third Teams for the 18U AAA level for the 2013-14 season.  Esmark Stars 18U goaltender Brian Baker, and center, Adam Alavi, were both honored.

Baker was named to the 18U All-NAPHL first team.  He appeared in 16 regular and post season games and statisically finished as the league's number one goaltender, finishing with a 11-3-0-1 record, as he allowed only 18 goals.  His GAA (goals against average) was 1.19 and his save percentage was 93.73 percent.  He recorded seven shutouts and one assist over the course of the season and helped lead the Stars to the NAPHL Championship game.

A senior from Peters Township High School, Baker was previously honored by the NAPHL as the defensive first star, 18U Franklin Peak Performer (Defense), for his performance in the NAPHL's 18U fifth showcase in Troy, MI, in Jan. 2014.  Baker was on top of his game during the final league showcase, as he allowed just one goal in three starts, recording two shutouts and three wins.

He was also honored by the NAPHL as defensive second star, 18U Franklin Virtual High School Peak Performer second star (defense), for his performance in the league's third 18U showcase in Romeoville, IL, in Nov. 2013.  Baker appeared in two of the Stars games and earned shutouts in both contests as he stopped all 31 shots he faced in the two games.   He has earned three shut-outs in in seven NAPHL appearances.

Baker, who has been tendered by the Lone Star Brahmas of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), was also named to the NAPHL's Top Performers Tournament, which featured 80 of the league's top players.  At that all-star event, he recorded two wins in three apperances, finishing with a goals against average of 1.00 and helping to lead Team North to the Tournament Championship.

Alavi was named to the 18U All-NAPHL third team as a forward.  He appeared in 28 regular and post season games and recorded 32 points (11 goals and 21 assists) finshing tied for ninth in regular season scoring.  He recorded four game winning goals during the regular season, finsing teid for first in that category.

A junior from Peters Township High School, Alavi was previously honored by the NAPHL as the offensive first star, 18U Franklin Peak Performer (Offense), for his performance in the NAPHL's 18U fourth showcase in Blaine MN, in Dec. 2013.  Alavi helped the Stars to a perfect 5-0-0-0 record at the event as he recorded 12 points (two goals and 10 assists).

Alavi, who has been tendered by the Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), was also named to the NAPHL's Top Performers Tournament in March, which featured 80 of the league's top players.  At that all-star event, he finished tied for the lead in the scoring race, recording six points (three goals and three assists) in four games as he helped lead Team North to the Tournament Championship.

In order to be considered for selection, players must have been nominated by their respective coaches.  After that, selection is based on player performance in all NAPHL regular season and playoff games throughout the 2013-14 season.

"Baker and Alavi both had great seasons," said Esmark Stars 18U head coach Dave Kosick.  "They both earned the recognition that the league has bestowed upon them by their play."

“We congratulate all those who were recognized for their efforts this past season,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld.  “Now five years into our history, the NAPHL continues to raise the bar each season with more exposure for the players as we continue to be one of the best Tier I youth leagues under the USA Hockey umbrella. It is thanks in large part to the commitment to excellence that is shared by the hard work of the players and the dedication of the coaching staffs and parents.”

16U's Ekberg Honored by NAPHL

The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) has announced All-NAPHL First, Second and Third Teams for the 16U AAA level for the 2013-14 season.

Carter Ekberg, defenseman, from the U16 AAA Esmark Stars was named to the All-NAPHL third team.  He appeared in 24 regular and post season games and recorded 17 points (7 goals and 10 assists), including 2 power play goals, 4 power play assists, 1 shorthanded goal and 2 game winning goals.

A junior from Peters Township High School, Ekberg was previously honored by the NAPHL as the second star, 16U Franklin Peak Performer (Defense), for his performance in the NAPHL's opening league showcase in Blaine, MN, in September.  He was also selected, along with Esmark teammate Kenny Dee, to participate in the league's Inaugural NAPHL All-Star Game, held during the league's third 16U Showcase at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, MN in December.  At that game, Ekberg recorded an assist in helping his Team Easton to a 6-3 win.

In order to be considered for selection, players must have been nominated by their respective coaches.  After that, selection is based on player performance in all NAPHL regular season and playoff games throughout the 2013-14 season.

"Carter's performance all season long has impressed me," said Esmark Stars 16U head coach Yuri Krivokhija.  "He certainly deserves recognition as one of the nations' truly elite players,"

“We congratulate all those who were recognized for their efforts this past season,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld.  “Now five years into our history, the NAPHL continues to raise the bar each season with more exposure for the players as we continue to be one of the best Tier I youth leagues under the USA Hockey umbrella. It is thanks in large part to the commitment to excellence that is shared by the hard work of the players and the dedication of the coaching staffs and parents.”

Esmark Stars shine in NAPHL Top Prospects Tournament

Pittsburgh, PA – The Esmark Stars 18U AAA Tier I amateur hockey club had nine of its players named to the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) Top Prospects Tournament, which will be held March 28 – 30, 2014, at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, IL.

At the event, four “Top Prospects” teams, each comprised of 20 of the top midget major players from the 16-team league, participated in a three-day tournament held in conjunction with the North American 3 Hockey League’s (NA3HL) Junior A Silver Cup Championship Tournament.  The three-day event was attended by over 50 scouts representing Junior A and NCAA teams.

Selected to represent the U18 AAA Pittsburgh Viper Stars were: post-grad forward Tanner Gilliliand, Butler Area; senior defenseman Tristan Ramage, Pittsburgh Central Catholic; senior defenseman Ryan Lottes, Quaker Valley High School; senior forward, Jonathan Dagnal, Peters Township High School; junior forward, Adam Alavi, Peters Township High School; senior goaltender, Brian Baker, Peters Township High School; defenseman, Josef Kittelberger, Peters Township High School; post-grad forward, Carmen Dalesandro, Canon McMillian High School; and senior forward, Cole Hepler, Freeport Area High School.  Hepler (previous commitment) and Dalesandro (injury) were unable to participate.

Head 18U coach Dave Kosick was tabbed to coach Team North in the event, the fourth straight season Kosick has been named as a coach for this NAPHL All-Star event.  Kosick had six of the seven Stars playing in the tournament on his Team North squad, as they captured the tournament championship with a perfect 4-0-0-0 record ... allowing only two goals against in four games. Alavi, Gilliland, Ramage, Lottes, Baker and Dagnal all were tabbed for Team North, while Josepf Kittelberger was selected for the West squad.  Other teams represented on Team North included players from the New Jersey Jr. Titans, Omaha AAA and the St. Louis Selects.

Team North opened the tournament with a 5-0 win over Team Great Lakes (Lansing Warriors, West Michigan Hounds, Cleveland Jr. Jacks and Detroit Falcons).  Jonathan Dagnal scored a goal and Adam Alavi picked up an assist in the win.

In game two, Team North picked up a 5-2 win over Team West (Anaheim Jr. Ducks, San Jose Jr. Sharks, California Titans and Pursuit of Excellence).  Dagnal scored his second goal of the tournament and Alavi picked up his second assist.  Tanner Gilliland also earned an assist.  Goaltender Brian Baker turned aside 25 of the 27 shots he faced to earn the win in goal.

In game three, Team North closed out round-robin play with a 3-0 shutout of Team South (Atlanta Fire, Pikes Peak Miners, Phoenix Firebirds and Texas Tornado).  Tristna Ramage scored his first goal of the tournament and Alavi earned an assist (his third of the tournament).  Baker, stopped all 14 of the shots he faced and earned the win in goal after coming on to play in a 0-0 tie midway through the game.  He teamed with fellow Team North golaie Justin Ketola (Omaha AAA) to turn aside all 25 Team South shots in the shut-out win.

In the Championship game, Team North was again matched up with Team Great Lakes and just as in the opening game, they skated to a 5-0 win, and the tournament championship.  Adam Alavi scored two goals to pace the way for his Team North.  Ramage picked up his second goal of the tournament and added an assist to give him three points for the tournament, tops among defenseman.  Gilliland added an assist, his second of the tournament.  Baker came on to play the second half of  the game in goal for Team North, turning aside all nine shots he faced, and again joining with Ketola to earn a shut-out as they stopped all 17 Team South shots on goal.

Baker finished the tournament with two more wins under his belt.  Kittelberger finished with one assist as Team West skated to thrid place. As a side note, it was Kosick's second consecutive Top Prospect Tournament Championship.

“We were excited to have again placed so many of our players in the NAPHL’s Top Prospects game,” says Dave Kosick, AAA Coordinator for the Esmark Stars and head coach of the program’s 18U AAA team. The Stars led the league with nine players selected to participate.  "All seven Stars players had outstanding events and increased their awareness and exposure level to several additional teams."

“There is no other league that offers so many opportunities for players to be showcased for collegiate and junior level programs,” Kosick continued.  "Each player participating in this event was given an additional level of exposure to those making decisions on who will play junior hockey next season."

Held in conjunction with the NA3HL's Silver Cup Championship Tournament, the NAPHL Top Prospects Tournament consists of a three-game round robin tournament followed by gold and bronze medal games.  The event has quickly become one of the most highly scouted events of its kind.  Last season, dozens of junior, NCAA and NHL scouts attended the event.  This season, players were again selected for participation by the NAPHL Top Prospects Tournament Selection Committee.

The NAPHL, which will begin its sixth season in 2014-15, is a 16-team league with member clubs from across North America.  The league has established itself as the premier Midget (18U and 16U) league in North America and provides heavy junior, college and professional scouting presence at all of its events.  Coupled with a first-class organizational staff, the NAPHL offers unparalleled exposure and opportunity for every participating program.

The Esmark Stars, a member of the North Hills Amateur Hockey Association (NHAHA), western Pennsylvania’s premier amateur ice hockey organization, have provided a memorable hockey experience to hundreds of area youths since 1984.  Devoted to promoting the growth of amateur ice hockey on a local and national level, the Stars are a proud member of the NAPHL (North American Prospect Hockey League) and USA Hockey and offer competition at the Tier I (AAA) level.

ESMARK STARS Announce Head Coaches for 2014-15 Season

The Esamrk Stars Tier I AAA program, proud members of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) and a member of the Pittsburgh Viper Hockey Family, have announced their head coaching positions for the 2014-15 season.

Founded in 1984, the Stars, celebrating their 30th year, have offered many of the region’s top amateur ice hockey players an opportunity to showcase their skills on a national and international level over the past 29 years.

Drawing players primarily from throughout the Tri-State Area of providing memorable hockey experiences to elite players under a the direction of a veteran and highly recognized coaching staff during the 2014-15 season.

18U - Dave Kosick
16U - Yuri Krivokhija
14U - Si Bishop
13U - Mark Hastings  / Terry Virtue
12U - Yuri Krivokhija

Esmark 18U forward Hepler signs NAHL tender with Kenai River

The Esmark Stars of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that 18U forward Cole Hepler has signed an NAHL tender agreement with the Kenai River Brown Bears.

Hepler, 18, is the leading scorer on this year’s Esmark Stars 18U squad, as he has posted 90 points (46 goals and 44 assists) in 61 games played.  In NAPHL action,  he recorded 28 points, 10 goals and 18 assists, in 24 league games played during the NAPHL regular season.

A senior at Freeport Area High School, Hepler (165 lbs., 5’11") helped lead the Stars to a 19-3-2 record during the NAPHL regular season, good for third place during the regular season midget major division and a spot in the NAPHL's Championship Series.  The Stars advanced through round-robin and semi-final play to the league's Championship game.

Last season, Hepler tallied 56 points (28 goals and 28 assists) in 57 overall games for the Stars 18U team, including 22 poinst (14 goals and 8 assists) in 16 NAPHL games, leading them to the NAPHL's Championship Series 18U semi-finals. During the 2011-12 season, Hepler recorded 58 points (29 goals and 29 assists) in 58 overall games for the 16U Stars, including 18 points (8 goals and 10 assists) in 22 NAPHL games.
 
Hepler was named the NAPHL 18U third offensive star from the NAPHL Showcase in Blaine, MN, Dec. 6-9, as helped the Stars to a perfect 5-0-0-0 record at the event.
 
Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick offered high praise for Hepler and future potential.

“Cole is a player you can build a program around.  He thrives in all aspects of the game, be it penalty kill, power play, fore checking, offensive and defensive zone play, etc.  He brings a high competitive drive to every practice and game and never rests on the success he has earned," said Kosick.  "When Cole hits the ice for Kenai, their fans and coaching staff will love this kid.”

“Cole is not only a solid two-way player, he understands and sees the game at a level few miidegt major players can comprehend.”

Hepler is the fifth member of the Esmark 18U team to sign a tender this season, joining teammates Brian Baker (Lone Star), Tristan Ramage (Johnstown), Carmen Dalesandro (Soo) and Adam Alavi (Soo).

Esmark 18U forward Alavi signs NAHL tender

The Esmark Stars of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that 18U forward Adam Alavi has signed an NAHL tender agreement with the Soo Eagles. The Eagles compete in the NAHL’s North Division.

Alavi, 17, was the leading scorer on this year’s Esmark Stars 18U squad in NAPHL action, as he posted 28 points, 10 goals and 18 assists, in 24 league games played during the NAPHL regular season.

A native of McMurray, PA, Alavi (5’10/170) recorded four game-winning goals during the 2013-14 NAPHL regular season, which tied for the NAPHL lead in the 18U Division, and led the Stars to a 19-3-2 record during the NAPHL regular season, good for third place in the midget major division.  Overall, he has recorded 72 points (23 goals and 49 assists) in 60 games to date.

Last season, Alavi tallied 25 points in 22 games for the Stars 16U team, leading them all the way to the NAPHL 16U Championship game.  He also recorded 8 points in five playoff games during the 2012-13 season
 
Alavi was named the NAPHL 18U offensive Franklin Peak Performer from the NAPHL Showcase in Blaine, MN, Dec. 6-9, as helped the Stars to a perfect 5-0-0-0 record at the event.  He led all 18U scorers in Blaine with 12 points (2 goals, 10 assists) in five games played, and had multi-point games in four of his five outings.
 
Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick says despite being a younger 18U player, Alavi has tremendous upside and potential.

“Adam is a hard-working and focused player, who has worked diligently to improve each aspect of his game since the first day of camp," said Kosick.  "And now he is reaping the first of hopefully many benefits for his hard work.”

“Adam is a solid two-way player, who I believe will be successful at the next levels of hockey.”

Alavi is the fourth member of the Esmark 18U team to sign a tender this season, joining teammates Brian Baker (Lone Star), Tristan Ramage (Johnstown) and Carmen Dalesandro (Soo).

16U and 18U Esmark Stars Capture Steel City Cup Tournament Championships

The 18U and 16U Esmark Stars AAA teams each enjoyed a strong showing at the 2014 Steel City Cup Tournament and skated away with championships in the U18 and U16 AAA divisions.

In round-robin play, the 16U Stars skated to a 4-0-0 record, shuting out the Pittsburgh Selects American (1-0), Team Maryland (2-0), and Mission AZ Ice Red (5-0) in their first three games, and posting a 5-1 win over the Atlanta Knights in their final preliminary game.

The 18U Stars matched the 16U squad in round-robin play, as they also skated to a 4-0-0 record.  The midget major club open with a 6-0 shutout of the Ashburn Xtreme; defeated Team Maryland, 7-3, in game two; posted a 7-0 shutout of crosstown rival the Pittsburgh Predators in game three; and closed out round-robin play with a 4-1 win over the Mission AZ Ice.

In the 16U semi-finals, the Stars skated to a 3-1 win over the Butler Valley Dawgs (second seeded team from the opposite division in the 15-team 16U midget minor division).  At the 18U level, the midget major Stars skated to a 7-0 shut-out win over the SHAHA Panthers (the second seed from the opposite division in the 10-team 18U division).

In the 16U Championship game, the Stars skated to a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Predators (who had qualified for the semi-finals as the second team in the same bracket as the Stars and who had defeated the Pittsburgh Selects Nationals in an overtime shootout to get into the Championship game).

In the 18U Championship game, the midget major Stars skated to a 6-0 win over the Cleveland Hockey Alliance (the number one seed from the opposite division in the midget major field).

Esmark Stars 18U Baker Honored by NAPHL

Brian Baker, goaltender for the U18 Esmark Stars has been selected by the North American Prospects Hockey League as the first star - 18U Franklin Virtual High School 18U Defensive Peak Performer for his performance in the NAPHL's final league showcase in Troy, MI in January.

The 18-year-old native of McMurray, PA, was statistically the top goaltender in the NAPHL’s 18U Division during the 2013-14 regular season.  Baker’s 1.00 goals against average, his 94.9% save percentage and his six shutouts led the 18U Division this season.  Baker finished the season with a 10-1-0-1 record in 12 appearances and allowed just 12 goals in NAPHL action all season long. 

Baker was on top of his game during the final league showcase, as he allowed just one goal in three starts to help the 18U Stars finished in third place in the 18U Division with a 19-3-0-2 record.  He recorded shutouts came against St. Louis and Atlanta during the Showcase before being touched up for a single goal in a win over New Jersey.

To date this season, Baker (5’10"/155 lbs.), has posted a 1.15 goals against average, his 92,53% save percentage, recorded 11 shutouts and posted an overall record of 21-4-1-1 to date.

“We have great depth in goal and it is one of the strengths of the team,” said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick. “Brian spends a lot of time studying the goaltending position and he is a better goalie for it. When he combines that with his physical ability, it makes him a really effective goaltender and one that will be successful at the next level.”

The NAPHL which celebrated its fifth season during the 2013-14, is composed of 16 teams Midget Major (18U) and Midget Minor (16U) teams from across North America that compete at the Tier I level.  The league schedule is comprised of six regular-season events leading up to its Championship Tournament Series in which the top eight teams at each level compete for a league championship.  The NAPHL Championship Series, which will take place from February 14-18 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan.

The NAPHL has established itself as the premiere training ground for development and exposure.  Not only have players in the NAPHL received recognition from NHL Central Scouting, dozens have received scholarships to NCAA Division I schools and hundreds more have been drafted and tendered by North American Hockey League (NAHL) and United States Hockey League (USHL) teams.  The NAPHL, which is sanctioned by USA Hockey, utilizes the USA Hockey Officiating Development Program and is designed to maximize the exposure of all participants through the NAHL's high-profile recruiting events that attract hundreds of college, junior and professional scouts.  The NAPHL provides an organizaed and competitive experience with an unrivaled scouting presence, guarenteed to benefit all of the participating student-athletes and programs.  For more information on the NAPHL, please visit www.naphl.com.

Esmark Stars 18U Duo Signs Tenders

The Esmark Stars, members of the Pittsburgh Viper Hockey family and the North American Prospects Hockey League, are pleased to announce that two players from the 18U team have signed NAHL tender agreements.
 
Goaltender Brian Baker has signed an NAHL tender with the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL’s South Division and forward Carmen Dalesandro has signed an NAHL tender with the Soo Eagles of the NAHL’s North Division.
 
In his first year with the Esmark 18U team, Baker, 18, a senior at Peters Township High School, has had quite the memorable first season in the NAPHL. The native of McMurray, PA was statistically the top goaltender in the NAPHL’s 18U Division during the 2013-14 regular season.  Baker posted a 1.00 goals against average, 94.9% save percentage and recorded six shutouts to lead all goaltenders in the the NAPHL's 18U Division this season.

Baker (155 lbs., 5'10") finished the NAPHL regular season with a 10-1-1 record in 12 appearances and allowed just 12 goals in NAPHL action all season.  He was named the #2 defensive star from the NAPHL 18U event in Romeoville and helped the Esmark Stars finish the NAPHL regular season in third place in the 18U Division, with a 19-3-2 record, and qualify for the league's playoffs.

Baker's overall numbers include a 21-4-1-1-record, 1.15 goals against average, 92.53% save percentage, and 11 shutouts to help lead the Stars to an overall 39-9-3-2 record to date this season.
 
"Brian Baker is a true student of the game.  He brings a very analytic approach to playing goaltender and mixes it with great athleticism and honed reflexes.  His numbers truly represent how well his performance has been to date," said Esmark 18U coach Dave Kosick.
 
Dalesandro, 18, is in his third season with the Esmark organization.  In 21 games played this season, he finished tied for fourth in team scoring with 19 points.  Last season, the native of Canonburg, PA, and Canon McMillian High School graduate, had 28 points in 22 games to tie for the team lead in scoring. He was also second in playoff scoring with nine points in four games for the Stars who were eliminated from the NAPHL Playoffs in an overtime shootout contest in the Semi-Finals in 2012-13.
 
During the 2011-12 season, Dalesandro (165 lbs., 5’10") played for the Stars 16U team where he had 14 points in 17 games played.  In 61 career NAPHL regular season games, Dalesandro has 61 career points (17 goals and 44 assists).

Overall this season, Dalesandro has posted 56 points (20 goals, 36 assists) in 47 games, including 5 power play goals and 1 short-handed goal.  During the 2012-13 campaign, Dalesandro tallied 102 points (32 goals and 70 assists) in 68 games played, including 35 points (7 goals, 25 assists) in 26 NAPHL games played.
 
"Carmen Dalesandro is an exciting player with explosive speed.  His world-class speed, mixed with his grit and his ability to find ice, allow him to be an elite level player.  He will quickly become a fan favorite for the Soo fans," said Kosick
 
The Esmark Stars 18U team will be the #3 seed in the Gold Division of the upcoming 2014 NAPHL Championship series next month, Feb. 15-18, in Troy, MI.

Alavi and Bosnic Featured in NAPHL Highlight Reel

Esmark Stars 18U forward Adam Alavi and Esmark Stars 16U forward Alec Bosnic are featured on the highlight reel of the North American Prospects Hockey League's showcase in Blaine, MN, Dec. 6 - 9, 2013.

All 32 teams from the NAPHL were in play during the five-game, five day event.  The 18U Stars skated to a 5-0-0-0 record, while the 16U Stars recorded a 4-1-0-0 record.

Former Viper Star Named NAHL Easton Star of the Week

Jacob Hetz, former member of the Pittsburgh Viper Stars, 2011-12, has been named as the Easton Mid-West Star of the Week, for the week of Dec. 7 - 15.

Hetz has helped the Fairbanks Ice Dogs back atop the Midwest Division of the NAHL and back to having the best record in the league, thanks to their weekend road sweep of in-state rival Kenai River.

The Ice Dogs won two, one-goal games and were bolstered by the play of 19-year-old forward from Shaler, who factored in on three of the five Ice Dogs goals during the weekend sweep.

On Friday, Hetz (195 lbs., 6’1") had the game-winning goal in the second period as Fairbanks edged the Brown Bears, 2-1.  The next night, he picked up two assists, including one on the game-winning goal as the Ice Dogs again edged the Brown Bears, 3-2.  Fairbanks has won 11 of their last 12 games.  To date, Hetz has 16 points in 27 games played this season.

“Jacob had a great weekend for us. He brought a lot of energy to both games and he really skates hard when he is out there,” said Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart.  “He was in on three of the five goals this weekend and really made an impact when we needed it.”

Former Viper Star Named EHL All-Star

Former Pittsburgh Viper Star, Michael Amelio, has been named as a "Mid-Season Second Team All-Star" by the Eastern Hockey League (EHL).

Amelio, who played for the Viper Stars, 16U and 18U, during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, currently serves as the captain of the Washington Jr. Nationals.

Congratulations to Mike!

Three Esmark Stars Honored for Play in Blaine

The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) has announced its Franklin Virtual High School Peak Performers from the NAPHL Showcase held at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, MN, Dec. 6 - 9.

Three offensive and defensive players were selected at both the U16 and U18 levels based upon their performance at the fourth NAPHL event of the season.

Three members of the Esmark Stars program were among the honorees as Adam Alavi, forward, Esmark Stars 18U, was named 18U first star Franklin Peak Performer (Offense), Cole Hepler, forward, Esmark Stars 18U, was named 18U third star Franklin Peak Performer (Offense), and Jonah Winnier, goaltender, Esmark Stars 16U, was named 16U third star Franklin Peak Performer (Defense).

A native of McMurray, PA,, helped the Stars to a perfect 5-0-0-0 record at the event and has his team in second place overall in the 18U Division with a 15-3-0-1 record.  Alavi, who will turn 17 on Dec. 18, led all 18U scorers in Blaine with 12 points (2 goals, 10 assists) in five games played.  Alavi (5’10" and 170 lbs.) had multi-point games in four of his five outings.  Esmark faced two tough opponents on Day 1 and Alavi rose to the challenge as he recorded four assists in a 7-1 win over San Jose and had a goal in a 4-2 win over Pursuit of Excellence. On Saturday, Alavi assisted twice in a 6-1 win over the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks. On Sunday, he picked up three assists in a 6-0 shutout of Phoenix and on Monday, Alavi had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 win over the Pikes Peak Miners. For the season, Alavi leads the Esmark 18U team in scoring with 24 points in 19 NAPHL games played and he ranks fifth in NAPHL 18U scoring.

Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick says despite being a younger 18U player, Alavi has tremendous upside and potential. “Adam is a hard-working and focused player.  He has improved every day since his first day of camp and now is seeing the benefit of all his hard work pay off,” said Kosick. “He is a solid two-way player, who I believe will be successful at the next level of hockey.”

Hepler, recorded ten points in five games (one goal and nine assists).  While at the U16 level, Winnier recorded three wins between the pies, stopping 22 of 24 shots he faced and picking up two shut-out wins.

At the 18U level, on offense, Devin Pierce, forward, Atlanta Fire, was named second star; and at the U16 level on defense, Brad Budman, defenseman, Anaheim Jr. Ducks, was named first star, while Brandon Rozzi, goaltender, New Jersey Titans, was selected as third star.

Alavi, Hepler and Winnier become the fourth, fifth and sixth Esmark Stars players to be honored so far this season.

The 18U Esmark Stars are currently in second place in the NAPHL'S U18 division with a record of 15-3-0-1.  Overall, the 18U Esmark Stars have a 33-7-3-1 record.

The 16U Esmark Stars currently have a record of 9-6-0-0 in the NAPHL'S U16 division.  Overall, the 16U Esmark Stars have a 19-15-4-0 record.

The NAPHL is comprised of six regular-season events leading up to its Championship Tournament Series in which the top teams at each level compete for a league championship. The fourth NAPHL event of the 2013-14 season will take place from December 6-9 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, MN. It will feature all 32 NAPHL teams, each playing in five regular season games. The event will also feature eight 14U teams playing in part of the ongoing Bantam Tournament Series (BTS).

Two Esmark Stars Selected to Participate in NAPHL 16U All-Star game

Ken Dee and Carter Ekberg, both defenseman on the 16U AAA Esmark Stars team, have been selected to participate in the NAPHL's inaugural 16U All-Star Game, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, 6:00 p.m., Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota.

The 16U All-Star Game is a part of the NAPHL’s fourth regular season event of the season, which will feature all 32 NAPHL teams, each playing in five regular season games, Dec. 6 - 9, in Blaine.

“We are very excited for the inaugural NAPHL 16U All-Star Game and believe it is going to showcase some of the best 16 and under hockey talent in the Nation,” said NAPHL Director Denny Scanlon.

Players considered for the 16U All-Star Game selection process were initially nominated by each of the NAPHL's 16U head coaches.  The NAPHL staff then selected the teams, with additional input and consultation from Coordinator of Player Personnel Craig Barnett and the NAPHL Event Scouting System.

The game will be broadcasted live, as are all NAPHL games, over the Internet through FASTHockey.

Congratulations to both Carter and Kenny!

Esmark's Ramage Signs Tender With NAHL's Tomahawks

The Esmark Stars, proud members of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL), are pleased to announce that 18U defenseman Tristan Ramage has signed an NAHL tender with the Johnstown Tomahawks.  The Tomahawks are members of the NAHL’s North Division.
 
Ramage, 17, is in his third season in the NAPHL with the Esmark Stars / Pittsburgh Viper Stars program.  The native of Evan City, PA, helps anchor a Stars defense that is second in the 18U Division in least goals allowed per game at just 1.6.
 
Through 14 NAPHL games this season, Ramage (6’2/195) has seven points (1 goal, 6 assists).  Six of seven points this season in NAPHL action have come on the power play.  Overall he has cored 18 points (4 goals and 14 assists) in 33 games.
 
This past summer, Ramage played on Team East at the 2013 NAPHL Top Prospects Tournament in Frisco, TX.  Ramage had three points in four games and helped Team East to the Top Prospects title.
 
During the 2012-13 season, he spent time on both the Pittsburgh 18U and 16U squads.  While with the 18U team, Ramage had 11 points in 17 games and played in four playoff games, recording two points.  He also appeared in 15 games with the 16U team.  During the 2011-12 season, Ramage played in 15 games for the 16U team, recording six assists.  He played in four playoff games, recording one point.
 
Ramage is the first player from the Esmark Stars 18U team to sign an NAHL tender this season.

Esmark Stars 18U Baker Honored by NAPHL

Brian Baker, goaltender for the 18U Esmark Stars, has been selected by the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) as the 18U Franklin Virtual High School Peak Performers second star (defense) - for the month of November.

Three offensive and defensive players were selected based upon their performance at the third NAPHL event of the season, the NAPHL 18U Showcase at Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville, IL, Nov. 8-10, 2013.

On defense, along with Baker, David Dziezawiec, defenseman, Pikes Peak Miners (CO), was selected as first star and Alex Gross, goaltender, Texas Tornado, was selected as third star.

Baker appeared in two of the Stars games and earned shutouts in both contests as he blanked the Detroit Falcons (4-0) and the Texas Tornado (1-0), stopping all 31 shots he faced in the two games.  Overall, Baker is 5-1-0-1 in NAPHL play and has the second lowest Goal Against Average in the 18U division with a 1.29 GAA and is second is save percentage with a .935 save percentage.  He has earned three shut-outs in in seven NAPHL appearances.

Baker is the third Esmark Stars player to be honored so far this season.  Carter Eckberg, defenseman, was named second star, 16U defense, for his performance at the league's opening showcase in Blaine, MN, and Joe Recktenwald, goaltender, was named first star, 18U defense, for his performance at the league's second showcase in San Jose, CA.

The Esmark Stars are currently in second place in the NAPHL'S U18 division with a record of 10-3-0-1.  Overall, the 18U Esmark Stars have a 27-6-2-1 record.

The NAPHL is comprised of six regular-season events leading up to its Championship Tournament Series in which the top teams at each level compete for a league championship. The fourth NAPHL event of the 2013-14 season will take place from December 6-9 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, MN. It will feature all 32 NAPHL teams, each playing in five regular season games. The event will also feature eight 14U teams playing in part of the ongoing Bantam Tournament Series (BTS).
 

Troy Double earns spot in NAPHL League Highlight Reel

Esmark Stars 18U player Troy Double is featured on the highlight reel of the North American Prospects Hockey League's third showcase in Romeoville, IL.

All sixteen teams from the U18 division were in action during thr four-game three day event.  The Esmark Stars skated to a 3-1-0-0 record to improve their overall NAPHL record to 10-3-0-1.

18U ESMARK STARS RECKTENWALD HONORED

Joe Recktenwald, goaltender for the U18 Esmark Stars has been selected by the North American Prospects Hockey League as the first star - 18U Franklin Virtual High School 18U Defensive Peak Performer for his performance in the NAPHL's second league showcase in San Jose, CA in early October.

The 2,300-mile trip to San Jose was well worth it for Recktenwald and his teammates, as the Stars were the only team in the 18U Division to post a perfect 5-0-0 record at the event.  A 17-year-old native of South Park, Recktenwald was honored for his solid work in San Jose.  During the league showcase he went 3-0-0, with a 1.33 goals against average and a 92.7% save percentage.

He began the event with a 17-save performance in a 5-2 win over the San Jose Jr. Sharks. Recktenwald was even better two days later as he allowed just a single goal in a 3-1 win over the Pikes Peak Miners, where he  made 21 saves.  On the final day, Recktenwald made 13 saves in a 5-1 win over the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks.

To date, Recktenwald has a 4-1-1 record his season in NAPHL play with a 2.00 goals against average and a 90.2% save percentage.

“Joe did a real good job of maintaining focus during the event,” said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick. “He is very sound technically and matches that with great reflexes, combined they make him an elite goaltender at this level.”

The NAPHL, which celebrates its fifth season in 2013-14, is composed of 16 teams Midget Major (18U) and Midget Minor (16U) teams from across North America that compete at the Tier I level.  The NAPHL has established itself as the premiere training ground for development and exposure.  Not only have players in the NAPHL received recognition from NHL Central Scouting, dozens have received scholarships to NCAA Division I schools and hundreds more have been drafted and tendered by North American Hockey League (NAHL) and United States Hockey League (USHL) teams.  The NAPHL, which is sanctioned by USA Hockey, utilizes the USA Hockey Officiating Development Program and is designed to maximize the exposure of all participants through the NAHL's high-profile recruiting events that attract hundreds of college, junior and professional scouts.  The NAPHL provides an organizaed and competitive experience with an unrivaled scouting presence, guarenteed to benefit all of the participating student-athletes and programs.  For more information on the NAPHL, please visit www.naphl.com.

Esmark Stars Recognize Esmark Corp.

Prior to their game on Saturday, Oct. 26, vs. the Cleveland Hockey Alliance, the Esmark Stars U18 team honored their new corporate partner Esmark Corp., with a presentation of a jersey to former alumni Clayton Bouchard, standing in for Esmark CEO Jim Bouchard.

Returning Stars players and former teammates of Bouchard's, including Mike Klena, Alex Pulekines, Ryan Lottes, Jacob Worcester, Tanner Gilliland, Tristan Ramage, Cole Hepler and Carmen Dalesandro, made the presentation.

Esmark Stars 18U win Buffalo Saints Tournament

Esmark Stars logo

The Esmark Stars 18U AAA team captured the 2013 Buffalo Saints Tournament in Buffalo, NY, Oct. 11 - 13, 2013.

The Pittsburgh-based team skated to a 3-0-0 record in round-robin play and captured the top seed for their division with wins over the Amherst Knights (4-2), Shady Side Academy (3–0), and the host Buffalo Saints (4–3).

In an opening 4-2 win over Amherst, Troy Double scored a pair of goals and added an assist to pace the Stars.  Cole Hepler and Brian Dee also tallied goals. Adam Alavi (two), Alex Pullekines, and Tanner Gilliland added assists.  Joey Recktenwald earned the win in goal. The Stars outshot Amherst 31-18 for the game.

In the 3-0 win over Shady Side Academy, Brian Dee scored a goal and added an assist to pace the Stars. Also tallying goals were Adam Alavi and Cole Hepler.  Alex Pullekines, Kyle Cunningham, and Troy Double added assists.  Brian Baker picked up an assist and turned aside 12 shots to earn the shut-out and win in goal.  The Stars outshot Shady Side 44-12 for the game.

In the round-robin 4-3 win over the Buffalo Saints, Brian Dee again paced the Stars as he picked up two goals.  Mike Klena and Cole Hepler also scored for Esmark.  Adam Alavi and Troy Double each picked up two assists, while Joey Recktenwald earned the win in goal as the Stars outshot the Saints 32-24.

In the semi-finals, Esmark skated by the Cleveland Hockey Alliance 4-1.  Troy Double (two goals and two assists) and Adam Alavi (two goals and one assist) again paced the Stars.   Brian Dee added three assists and Ryan Lottes and Tristan Ramage each added one assist.  Brian Baker earned the win in goal as Esmark outshot Cleveland 36-21.

In the Championship game, after a brief two-hour respite, the Stars again met up with the host Buffalo Saints and skated away with an impressive 5-1 win.  Tanner Gilliland tallied a natural hat-trick to lead the offense for the Stars.  Carmen Dalesandro added a goal and two assists and David Polinski chipped in a goal for the Stars.  Cole Hepler recorded three assists, while Jake Worcester, Kyle Cunningham and Alex Pullekines each added an assist.  Joey Recktenwald earned the win in goal, and co-MVP honors in the Championship game with Tanner Gilliland, by recording 37 saves.

The 18U Stars championship run at Buffalo Saints Tournament follows strong performances in the Massachusetts Tier I Labor Day Tournament in Boston and at the Motor City Cup in Detroit, MI.

NAPHL San Jose, CA Highlights

Esmark Stars players Jordan Timmons (16U) and Tanner Gilliland (18U) are featured in the highlight reel from the North Amercian Prospects Hockey League's (NAPHL) second league showcase in San Jose, CA.

The west showcase featured NAPHL members: Anaheim Ducks, California Titans, Cleveland Jr. Jacks, Esmark Stars, Phoenix Firebirds, Pikes Peak Miners (CO), Pursuit of Excellence (Kelowna, BC), and the San Jose Jr. Sharks.

NAPHL Blaine, MN Highlights

Esmark Stars players Connor Eckberg (16U) and Tanner Gilliland (18U) make the cut on the highlight reel of opening league event for the North Amercian Hockey League in Blaine, MN.

Over 340 scouts, including representatives from all NHL, almost all Division I and III NCAA teams, most USHL and all NAHL Jr. A teams, several Canadian Junior A and U.S. ACHL collegiate teams, were in attendance at North America's premier midget AAA league showcase event.

Esmark Stars 16U Carter Eckberg Honored by NAPHL

Carter Eckberg, defenseman for the 16U Esmark Stars, has been selected by the North American Prospects Hockey League as the second star - 16U Franklin Peak Performer (Defense) for his performance in the NAPHL's opening league showcase in Blaine, MN in September.

Jacob Acton, goaltender, San Jose Jr. Sharks was selected first star and Max Quartermua, goaltender, Lansing Capitals, was selected as thrid star.

The NAPHL U16 division is comprised of four regular-season events leading up to its Championship Tournament Series, in February 2014, in which the top teams will compete for a league championship.  Last season, the Esmark Stars U16 club (Pittsburgh Viper Stars) advanced to the league championship game before falling to Omaha AAA.

The second NAPHL event of the 2013-14 season will take place from October 18 - 21 at the Shark's Ice in in San Jose, California.

The NAPHL, which celebrates its fifth season in 2013-14, is composed of 16 teams Midget Major (18U) and Midget Minor (16U) teams from across North America that compete at the Tier I level.  The NAPHL has established itself as the premiere training ground for development and exposure.  Not only have players in the NAPHL received recognition from NHL Central Scouting, dozens have received scholarships to NCAA Division I schools and hundreds more have been drafted and tendered by North American Hockey League (NAHL) and United States Hockey League (USHL) teams.  The NAPHL, which is sanctioned by USA Hockey, utilizes the USA Hockey Officiating Development Program and is designed to maximize the exposure of all participants through the NAHL's high-profile recruiting events that attract hundreds of college, junior and professional scouts.  The NAPHL provides an organizaed and competitive experience with an unrivaled scouting presence, guarenteed to benefit all of the participating student-athletes and programs.  For more information on the NAPHL, please visit www.naphl.com.

First NAPHL Event of the Season Sets New Standard

The final day of competition of the first NAPHL event of the season, the 11th annual NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota, concluded on Sunday, Sept. 22.  By all accounts, the showcase, which featured over 80 teams competing in the five-day event, was the best to date.

An all-time record of 347 scouts checked-in at the Showcase, including Junior A, NCAA Division I, NCAA Division III and NHL ranks.

Many of the scouts remarked that the competition in the NAPHL is at an all-time high. Now in its fifth season the NAPHL has established itself as one of the premiere training grounds for development in North America and is designed to maximize the exposure of all the participants through the NAHL's high-profile recruiting events like this past week’s NAHL Showcase.

All 32 teams in the NAPHL played five regular season games at the NAHL Showcase. As a testament to the early parity that exists in the league for this season, only two teams at each age division made it through the five games undefeated.  Here is a summary of the event:

18U Division
After the first five games, two teams remain with perfect 5-0-0 records, the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and the Lansing Capitals. Both picked up five wins in their first five games thanks to a steady offense and a stingy defense, and both have nearly the same goals for as goals against. The Ducks are being led by second-year forward Riley Hummitsch, who has eight points in five games. The Capitals got contributions from just about everyone this past weekend. Ronald Hein leads the team with nine points and forward Zach Roberts had two of the five game-winning goals this past weekend.

Right behind the Ducks and Capitals are a trio of teams with 4-1-0 records including the Texas Tornado, Omaha AAA Hockey Club and Pursuit of Excellence.  Texas is under the direction of two new coaches, Landon Wilson and Jon Klemm, both of who are former NHL players. Defenseman Colin Whitt is second among 18U defensemen in scoring with six points. Omaha, who is coached this season by 16U coach and former NHL’er David Wilkie, boasts the 18U Division’s top scorer in Nathan Medeiros (10 pts.) and the 18U’s top goalie in Justin Ketola (.83 GAA).  Pursuit is lead by 15-year-old scoring sensation Tyler Benson, who had nine points in his first five games and who also had the scouts buzzing at the event.

The Pikes Peak Miners had a good event, finishing with a 3-1-1 record and who boast the 18U’s top scoring defenseman in David Dziezawiec. Behind Pikes Peak sits West Michigan and California with 3-2 records and the Esmark Stars, who are at 2-2-1. After that, St. Louis and Cleveland are at 2-3-0, followed by New Jersey at 1-2-2.  San Jose and Phoenix are both at 1-4-0, Atlanta sits at 0-4-1 and Detroit is 0-5-0.

16U Division
In the 16U Division, no one was surprised as last year’s Champion Omaha jumped out to another undefeated event.  When the Midget Minor 16U national rankings come out later this month, Omaha is expected to be a Top 3 team in the country.  Forward Tarek Baker registered 18 points in five games and is on an early assault to break the single-season NAPHL scoring record. However, the Lansing Capitals gained a lot of interest with their play over the weekend. The Capitals outscored their opponents by a combined 26-1 score in the five games, surrendering just a single goal during the event.  Defensively, Lansing was as solid as any team at the event and both goalies, Max Quertermus and Colt Hanks posted two shutouts while in Blaine.

Three 16U teams finished the Showcase with 4-1-0 records including the New Jersey Jr. Titans, the San Jose Jr. Sharks and the Pikes Peak Miners. San Jose was led by goalie Jacob Acton who posted three shutouts at the event and didn’t surrender a single goal in 153 minutes of action. Forward Ryan Walker’s 13 points and defenseman Brad Becker’s eight points led New Jersey. Pikes Peak did it with goaltending as both David Fessenden and Ty Bever finished the event with identical 94.1% save percentages.

The Anaheim Jr. Ducks had a solid event, finishing with a 3-1-1 record.  Also on the winning side of things were the California Titans, Esmark Stars and Texas Tornado, who all finished the event with 3-2-0 records.  St. Louis is the lone team at 2-3-0.  Four teams are 1-4-0 including Atlanta, Pursuit of Excellence, Phoenix and West Michigan. Detroit and Cleveland are both 0-5-0.

Pittsburgh Viper Stars Become Esmark Stars

The Pittsburgh Viper Stars AAA Tier I amateur hockey club has announced it has reached agreement with Pittsburgh-based Esmark, Inc., to serve as primary sponsor for the club’s Tier I AAA amateur hockey teams for the next five years.

“We are honored to be associated with a partner of Esmark’s stature,” said Viper Stars founder Dave Kosick. “We have enjoyed a close working atmosphere with Esmark for the past few years and look forward to an even stronger relationship for many years to come.”

Esmark is a diversified, privately-held family company with a portfolio of industrial companies with strong roots in the steel industry. Over the years, Esmark has diversified its interests and operations into a number of businesses engaged in the industrial and commodity sectors.

Since its reemergence on the public scene, Esmark has invested both considerable time and resources with a number of community, philanthropic and youth development initiatives.

“We are delighted to enhance our relationship with the Viper Stars program. Not only have they provided ice hockey playing opportunities to many of the top young players from the western PA region for the past 30 years, they have mentored these young men and helped them with the transition into adulthood.” said Esmark CEO James Bouchard.

“As a family-owned and managed enterprise, Esmark has been an active and committed member of the communities in which it operates,” said Esmark president Greg Pilewicz. “We believe strongly in supporting selective partners who share the same philosophical goals of youth development through education, recreation, and human services as well as provide families with access to critical programs and humanitarian services,”

As part of the agreement, the Viper Stars, who are members of the NorthAmerican Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL), will now play under a new name, Esmark Stars, with a new logo.

The Viper Stars AAA program has offered many of the region’s top amateur ice hockey players an opportunity to showcase their skills on a national and
international level over the past 29 years under the names Pittsburgh Stars, Steel City Stars and most recently Pittsburgh Viper Stars. Drawing players primarily from western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio, the newly named Esmark Stars program is an elite travel level program designed to showcase players for junior and collegiate opportunities. 

The Esmark Stars, proud members of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) and USA Hockey, offer western Pennsylvania and the tri state area the only Tier I AAA full season travel ice hockey program that encourages participation on both the travel and interscholastic levels. The NAPHL, composed of 32 Midget Major (18U) and Midget Minor (16U) teams from 16 programs across North America that compete at the USA Hockey Tier I AAA level, begins its fifth season in 2013-14.

The NAPHL continues to establish itself as the premiere training ground for development and exposure. Participants in the league have been have been selected in the NHL Draft, recognized by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, dozens have received scholarships to NCAA Division I schools, and hundreds more have been drafted and tendered by the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and United States Hockey League (USHL) teams.

Pittsburgh Viper Hockey, parent organization for the Esmark Stars and western Pennsylvania’s premier amateur ice hockey organization, has provided a memorable hockey experience to thousands of area youths since 1964. The organization provides top instruction to boys and girls of all skill levels through its Pittsburgh Vipers and Esmark Stars programs. Devoted to promoting the growth of amateur ice hockey on a local and national level, NHAHA is a proud member of the Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League, and USA Hockey and offers competition at the Tier I & Tier II (AAA, AA, A and B) levels, as well as in house program and the USA Hockey ADM Program.

STARS In the News