Previewing the NAPHL: Esmark Stars
September 4, 2014
Over the course of the next two weeks, the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) is proud to feature a new series that will preview each of the 32 teams in the NAPHL for the 2014-15 season. Each day, leading all the way up to the first event of the season at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN, the league will feature a different organization and take a look at both their 18U and 16U teams. There will be a review of last season and a look ahead to this season, which will include an interview with each of the team’s head coaches.
Esmark Stars 16U
Since joining the NAPHL during the 2010-11 season the Stars have consistently remained a top team in the 16U division. Season after season they are able to win games and move players to the next level. Much of that consistency is in the coaching staff.
Head coach Yuri Krivokhija has been coaching the 16U stars since joining the NAPHL. Yuri brings a wealth of knowledge to the game. He played professionally for 18 years and has coached for the past nine years.
Last season the Stars were able to qualify for the playoffs, but were knocked out by the eventual league champions in the Lansing Capitals. This season the Stars are looking like another post-season appearance is in the making and a possible push to make it deeper into the playoffs.
The roster is shaping up to be a veteran team as it is made up entirely of second year midget minor players. They are also returning six players from last seasons’ playoff team. On defense they return Cole Barney, David Nee, and Ty Rickabuagh.
These players will be looked upon to anchor the defensive unit and provide leadership on the back end. Up front they return forwards Alec Bosnic, Beau Heakins, and Nikita Slivchenko. All of these players made significant contributions last season and will be looked upon to do the same this season.
In net the Stars have 2 very capable goalies in Hayden Chieffo and Sean MacDonald. With head coach Yuri Krivokhija at the helm and a talented veteran roster it is looking like this could be another successful season for the Esmark Stars.
Esmark Stars 18U
Since joining the NAPHL the 18U Esmark Stars have been consistently near the top of the NAPHL standings. They are a program that prides them self on a defense first mentality.
Head Coach Dave Kosick takes great pride in that belief. “We are a team that always takes the defense first approach. We want our kids to be good at both ends of the ice,” said Kosick.
This approach has led to season after season of success for Esmark. Last season they made it all the way to the NAPHL championship game, but lost a heart breaker to Omaha. This year the Stars are looking to get back to that game, but hopefully end with a different result.
This season the team will be much younger. They are returning 4 players from last years’ team with the possibility of a few more players returning as junior training camps come to a close. Most of the faces might be new to 18U, but are not new to the organization.
A large amount of the 16U Stars team from last season will be making the jump this season to the 18U level. Coach Kosick is looking forward to getting the season going and is happy with is team. “I expect this team to be a blue collar type of team. We are going to work hard in all 3 zones and always give ourselves a chance to win every game that we play in,” said Kosick.
Coach Kosick is also looking forward to getting his team up to Blaine, Minnesota for the first league event in September. “We are very pleased to be a member of the NAPHL it provides an amazing opportunity for our teams. There is no other event in youth hockey that comes close to the success of the event in Blaine. The platform that event provides for these kids to showcase their skill set is mind blowing,” said Kosick