Esmark Stars to participate in Russian Hockey Tournament | North American Prospects Hockey League | NAPHL
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Esmark Stars to participate in Russian Hockey Tournament

July 30, 2019
The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club, proud members of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL), has announced that it will be sending a team, U16 AAA, to the city of Nizhnekamsk in Tatarstan, Russia to participate in an International Friendship Hockey Tournament, Aug. 24-31, 2019.
The tournament will take place at the Neftekhimik Ice Palace in Nizhnekamsk.  The Neftekhimik Ice Palace is home to the Kontinental Hockey League's (KHL) Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk.
Tatarstan, is home to two KHL teams, the Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, who play in the tournament’s host city of Nizhnekamsk, and the Ak Bars Kazan, which is based in the capital city of Kazan. Both teams are members of the Kharlamov Division in the Eastern Conference of the KHL.
The KHL, considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in Europe and Asia, and second in the world behind the National Hockey League (NHL), is home to 24 member clubs based in Belarus, China, Finland, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Russia.
In addition to the Esmark Stars club, other teams scheduled to participate in the 16U tournament include: Avangard Omsk (Omsk, Russia), Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia), Ak Bars Kazan (Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia), Neftehimik Nizhnekamsk (Nizhnekamsk, Tatarstan, Russia), Neftyannik Almetyevsk (Almetyevsk, Russia), and Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Magnitogorsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia).
The tournament and participation of the Esmark Stars AAA club is being coordinated by the Sports Ministry of the Republic of Tatarstan and the US-based Friendship Bridge Association, with support from the KHL's Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk hockey club.
The hockey tournament is the first of several international sporting events in Tatarstan for US-based teams and programs planned by Friendship Bridge Association.  Upcoming events with American teams participating will include boxing, gymnastics and judo competitions.
"This is a great opportunity for the Stars to kick-off our 35th year celebration," said Stars founder and general manager Dave Kosick.
"By traveling internationally, it will allow us to truly celebrate the history of our program," Kosick added.
The Pittsburgh Stars, the original name of the club, sent teams to Europe several times during the early years of the program, including their inaugural season in 1984 when a team traveled to Helsinki and Turku, Finland, for competition.
In addition to Finland, the Stars program has also sent teams previously to participate in tournaments and games in Austria, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
“Our program has sought to travel to Russia in the past, but logistically we were never able to make it happen,” Kosick said.  “We look forward to the challenge in front of us as we will face teams and players who are certainly among the world’s best.”
The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey program, based in Pittsburgh, PA, is a nationally and internationally recognized amateur hockey club, under the umbrella of USA Hockey and the Mid-American Hockey District.  Founded in 1984, the Stars hockey program is the oldest Tier I program in the Mid-American District (western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia) and one of the oldest under USA Hockey guidance.
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