In an exciting development for the Tier 1 Hockey Federation (THF), Zander Lipsett, a promising player from the Tri State Spartans, has received a tender offer from the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

Hailing from Lexington, Kentucky, Lipsett has emerged as a standout player, showcasing his prowess with an impressive performance in the current season. In 27 games, he has contributed significantly to his team’s success, tallying an impressive 12 goals and 20 assists for a total of 32 points.

Tri State Spartans’ Head Coach, Ryan McGinnis, expressed his confidence in Lipsett’s abilities, stating, “It comes as no surprise that Steve Howard in Austin found value in Zander. Zander is one that translates to the NAHL with his internal motivating actions on and off the ice. We look forward to seeing his continued growth as a student of the game with the Austin Bruins.”

McGinnis’ remarks shed light on Lipsett’s work ethic and determination, not only as a skilled player but also as a dedicated student of the game. The emphasis on Lipsett’s internal motivating actions suggests that he brings more than just physical prowess to the team; he carries a passion for the sport that extends beyond the rink.

As always, the Tier 1 Hockey Federation is committed to celebrating and supporting the success of talented young athletes like Connor. If you have a player whose achievements you would like to see featured in our announcements, please fill out the form here. We are eager to share the stories of these rising stars as they advance in their hockey careers.

Excitement is buzzing in the world of Tier 1 Hockey Federation as Biggby Coffee AAA Hockey’s standout forward, Riley Fast, recently inked a tender agreement with the North American Hockey League (NAHL)’s Maryland Black Bears. Hailing from East Lansing, Michigan, Fast has been making waves with his remarkable performance on the ice.

Fast’s impressive season with Biggby’s 18U AAA team has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in securing this opportunity. In 34 games this season, he showcased his prowess by amassing an impressive 30 points. His ability to contribute both offensively and defensively caught the attention of scouts, leading to this significant milestone in his hockey journey.

Biggby Coffee AAA Hockey’s 18U Head Coach, Brian Sherry, had high praise for Fast, describing him as a “strong two-way center-man who possesses a scoring touch and a physical presence on the ice.” Sherry went on to emphasize Fast’s character, noting that the young forward has not only displayed excellence in his gameplay but also embodies qualities that contribute positively to the team dynamic.

Coach Sherry expressed his confidence in Fast’s future, stating, “Riley has great things coming his way in his hockey career.” This endorsement speaks volumes about Fast’s potential impact as he takes the next step in his hockey journey with the Maryland Black Bears in the competitive environment of the NAHL.

The NAHL is renowned for its role in developing top-tier talent, and Fast’s signing with the Maryland Black Bears opens a new chapter in his pursuit of excellence. As he prepares to transition to the next level of competition, fans and supporters eagerly anticipate witnessing the continued growth and success of this promising young player.

As always, the Tier 1 Hockey Federation is committed to celebrating and supporting the success of talented young athletes like Connor. If you have a player whose achievements you would like to see featured in our announcements, please fill out the form here. We are eager to share the stories of these rising stars as they advance in their hockey careers.

Pittsburgh, PA – The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the Tier 1 Hockey Federation (T1HF) are pleased to announce that 18U forward Maxwell Rutkowski has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Oklahoma Warriors.

The 2023-24 season is Rutkowski’s third season with Esmark’s AAA program and second season with the Star’s U18 Midget Major squad. Through Nov 9, the (5’9” / 180 lbs.) 18-year-old from Export, PA, has registered 2 points(1 goal, 1 assist), in eight T1HF appearances this season. Overall, this season to date, Rutkowski has tallied 28 points (9 goals, 19 assists), including two power play goals, in 27 games played for Esmark (through Nov. 9).

During the 2022-23 season, Rutkowski registered 28 points (18 goal, 10 assists), in 29 T1HF appearances helping lead Esmark’s U18 AAA squad to the league’s inaugural regular season 18Utitle, the T1HL’s inaugural playoff championship and the USPHL Cup Championship. Overall during the 2022-23 season, Rutkowski tallied 50 points (21 goals, 29 assists), including one power-play and one short-handed goal, in 47 games played for the 18U Esmark squad in a season in which he missed 23 games due to injury.

“Max is going to be a good fit in Oklahoma,” said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick, “He is a tough kid who can play in all situations … penalty kill, shut-down line, forechecker who  will thrive in a heavy, big body game.”

“He is the type of player who checks off a lot of boxes for a coaching staff and one who works each day to succeed on the ice,” Kosick added.

Rutkowski is the first member of the 2023-2024 Esmark 18U AAA team to sign a tender with a Junior A club for the 2024-25 season.  The Warriors, who play in the NAHL’s nine-team South Division along with the Amarillo (TX) Wranglers, Colorado Grit, Corpus Cristi (TX) IceRays, El Paso (TX) Rhinos, Lone Star (TX) Brahmas, New Mexico Ice Wolves, Odessa (TX) Jackalopes, and Shreveport (LA) Mudbugs, play in the Blazers Ice Center in Oklahoma City, OK, and are led by Head Coach Garrett Roth.

The Tier 1 Hockey Federation is thrilled to announce defenseman Cade Kozak of Team Maryland has officially signed a tender agreement with the Colorado Grit of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

Hailing from Isanti, Minnesota, Kozak has distinguished himself on the ice, showcasing his skills as a formidable defenseman. This season, the talented player has been a crucial asset for Team Maryland, amassing an impressive 23 points in just 28 games. His stellar performance has not only caught the attention of his current team but has also paved the way for an exciting opportunity with the Colorado Grit.

Team Maryland Head Coach Robbie Murden expressed his enthusiasm for Kozak’s signing, emphasizing the player’s embodiment of the core values the team is striving to cultivate. “Cade exudes all of the pillars we are focusing the transformation of Team Maryland AAA hockey around – he is ultra-competitive, has infectious energy, is coachable, and a great teammate,” said Murden. Kozak’s influence extends beyond his on-ice prowess, as he serves as a role model for many of the younger national-bound players within the Team Maryland organization.

As Kozak embarks on this new chapter with the Colorado Grit, Team Maryland eagerly anticipates his continued growth and success. Murden expressed confidence in Kozak’s ability to thrive in the junior hockey ranks, highlighting the positive impact the defenseman has had on the U18 team’s pursuit of their goals.

As always, the Tier 1 Hockey Federation is committed to celebrating and supporting the success of talented young athletes like Connor. If you have a player whose achievements you would like to see featured in our announcements, please fill out the form here. We are eager to share the stories of these rising stars as they advance in their hockey careers.

Pittsburgh, PA – The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the Tier 1 Hockey Federation (T1HF) are pleased to announce that 18U forward Alex Thomas has signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the Colorado Grit.

The 2023-24 season is Thomas’ first season with Esmark’s U18 Midget Major squad.

Through Nov 9, the (5’10” / 165 lbs.) 18-year-old from North Huntington, PA, has registered 11 points (7 goals, 4 assist), including two power-play goals, in eight T1HF appearances this season for Esmark’s U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

Overall, this season to date, Thomas has tallied 38 points (21 goals, 17 assists), including eight power play goals and one shorthanded goal, in 27 games played for Esmark (through Nov. 9).

“Alex is an extremely gifted player with an explosive skill set,” said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick. “He has the tools to succeed in the NAHL and Colorado landed a talented player who will give them a high-end offensive threat.”

Thomas is the second member of the 2023-2024 Esmark 18U AAA team to sign a tender with a Junior A club. Teammate Max Rutkowski previously signed with the NAHL’s Oklahoma Warriors.

The Grit, who play in the NAHL’s nine-team South Division along with the Amarillo (TX) Wranglers, Corpus Cristi (TX) IceRays, El Paso (TX) Rhinos, Lone Star (TX) Brahmas, New Mexico Ice Wolves, Odessa (TX) Jackalopes, Oklahoma Warriors and Shreveport (LA) Mudbugs, play in the Greely Ice House in Greely, CO, and are led by Head Coach Steve Haddon.

The Tier 1 Hockey Federation is delighted to anounce that Harrison Smith, an exceptional forward from Wellington, Florida, has recently inked a tender agreement with the Maryland Black Bears in the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

Smith’s performance with Team Maryland this season has been nothing short of remarkable. Hailing from the sunny state of Florida, Smith has demonstrated his prowess on the ice by amassing a staggering 50 points in just 30 games. This outstanding achievement has not only solidified his reputation as a rising star but also captured the attention of the Maryland Black Bears.

This exciting development is a testament to Smith’s dedication and skill on the rink, and it opens up an exciting new chapter in his promising hockey career. 

Smith’s journey from Team Maryland to the Maryland Black Bears is a testament to the incredible talent pipeline fostered by the Tier 1 Hockey Federation. It exemplifies the commitment of both players and organizations to the sport, and we look forward to witnessing Harrison Smith’s continued growth and success in the NAHL.

As always, the Tier 1 Hockey Federation is committed to celebrating and supporting the success of talented young athletes like Connor. If you have a player whose achievements you would like to see featured in our announcements, please fill out the form here. We are eager to share the stories of these rising stars as they advance in their hockey careers.

The Tier 1 Hockey Federation has announced that Aden Gariepy, the talented goaltender for Biggby Coffee AAA Hockey, has been listed on the NHL’s Preliminary Players to Watch list for the highly anticipated 2024 NHL Draft. This recognition is a testament to Gariepy’s skill and dedication to the sport, and it’s an exciting moment for both him and his team.

Hailing from Munising, Michigan, Aden Gariepy is a 2005 birth-year player who is currently in his second season with Biggby Coffee AAA Hockey. In his short but promising career, he has already made a significant impact. Gariepy has appeared in 11 games, impressively posting a 6-3 record, showcasing his ability to consistently perform at a high level.

What makes this recognition even more special is that Gariepy stands out as the lone US AAA player featured on the Preliminary Players to Watch list for the 2024 NHL Draft. This accomplishment is a testament to his exceptional talent and the dedication he and his team have put into honing his skills.

Notably, Gariepy’s ranking on the list includes a “W” ranking, which indicates that he is projected to be selected in the 7th or 8th round of the NHL Draft.

This recognition is not only a personal achievement for Aden Gariepy but also a source of pride for the Biggby Coffee AAA Hockey team and the Tier 1 Hockey Federation.

As the 2024 NHL Draft approaches, all eyes will be on Aden Gariepy and his continued progress in the world of hockey. His journey is a testament to the possibilities that exist for aspiring players who have the dedication and talent to rise to the top of their game. We wish Gariepy the best of luck in his future endeavors and look forward to seeing his name on the NHL Draft board next summer. 

The Tier 1 Hockey Federation is delighted to share some exciting news in the world of youth hockey. DJ Ott, captain of the Biggby Coffee AAA Hockey 18U team, has been tendered by the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). This is a significant milestone in Ott’s hockey career, and it reflects his dedication and skill on the ice.

Hailing from Sand Creek, Michigan, Ott has been a standout defenseman for Biggby Coffee AAA Hockey. This season, he has notched an impressive 1 goal, 5 assists, and a total of 6 points. His leadership as team captain has been invaluable, setting an example for his teammates on and off the ice.

Ott began this season with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, playing in three games with the NAHL team before returning to Michigan. After his return, Ott signed a tender with the Ice Dogs, cementing his path to the next level of competition in junior hockey.

The Tier 1 Hockey Federation extends its heartfelt congratulations to DJ Ott on this significant achievement. We are proud to see one of our own players advancing to the next level of their hockey career, and we wish Ott all the best as he continues to pursue his dreams in the world of hockey.

If you have a player whose advancement you would like to see featured in our announcements, please feel free to fill out the form on our website. We are always excited to share the success stories of talented young athletes as they progress in their hockey journeys.

In the world of hockey, up-and-coming stars can make a lasting impact through their skill, dedication, and leadership. Such a rising star is Ben Barrett, a talented forward hailing from Bristow, VA, whose hockey journey has recently taken an exciting turn. The 18U Captain of Team Maryland, Ben Barrett, has accepted a tender with the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) Mercer Chiefs, marking a significant milestone in his hockey career.

Ben Barrett’s hockey journey has been a testament to his talent and commitment. From 2018 to 2022, he showcased his skills and contributed significantly while playing for the Washington Little Caps, registering 14 goals and 14 assists.

As the assistant captain and later captain of the Gainesville/Patriot High School team, Ben left an indelible mark by amassing a total of 47 points during his tenure.

Ben’s tenure with Team Maryland has been equally remarkable, where he has amassed an impressive 64 points. As the 18U team captain, his influence has been undeniable, guiding his team with both his skill and leadership qualities.

Ben Barrett’s impact extends beyond scoring points on the ice. His teammates and coaches have recognized the immense contributions he has made to the team. The Team Maryland organization itself had this to say about Ben: “Ben is a second-year Team Maryland player, his leadership off the ice and his non-stop motor and compete on the ice have been an integral part of our 18U team’s success this season.”

As Ben embarks on this new chapter, his dedication, leadership, and passion for the game will continue to serve him well. The Tier 1 Hockey Federation extends its heartfelt congratulations to Ben Barrett on this remarkable achievement, and we eagerly await the next phase of his hockey journey with the NCDC Mercer Chiefs.

Click here to explore other notable advancements from AHF players or to submit your own commitment to be recognized.

BETHESDA, MD — Black Bear Sports Group, Inc., (“Black Bear”), the United States Premier Hockey League (“USPHL”) and the Tier 1 Hockey Federation (“THF”) are pleased to announce a collaboration of their youth and midget hockey activities. Teams at all ages from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania will play in the THF-USPHL South Division (“THF South”). The THF South will continue with its hallmark unbalanced schedule in order to eliminate lopsided games and improve national hockey rankings. Midget (15U, 16U and 18U) teams from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts will play in the USPHL-THF North Division (“USPHL North”), which will be administered by the THF. USPHL North member club youth teams will remain in their current leagues. The two divisions will compete at year end for a USPHL Championship. The Mercer Chiefs will also be purchasing a Tier 2 NCDC junior hockey franchise and will field a team for the 2022-23 season. Finally, Tony Zasowski, former Director of the North American Prospects Hockey League (“NAPHL”), one of the largest Tier 1 youth hockey leagues in the U.S., has been named Commissioner of the THF. Tony brings deep experience to this new role having previously run, in addition to the NAPHL, all NAHL Central Scouting initiatives, prospects tournaments and combines.

“Through our collaboration with the USPHL, the THF is now a one-of-a-kind organization in that we are the only group with clubs that operate from “cradle to college,” from Mite thru Midget at the youth level and every level of junior hockey developing players for NCAA Division I, II and III schools,” said Murry N. Gunty, Founder and CEO of Black Bear Sports Group. “We are honored to collaborate with the USPHL and their member clubs and look forward to building upon all of their successes to date.”

“The Mercer Chiefs have a long history of success at the youth level so we are thrilled to have them join us in the NCDC,” said Bob Turow, Commissioner of the USPHL. “We believe this association at the Midget and youth levels will strengthen both of our organizations.”

“I am excited to work with all of our member clubs in the THF and USPHL to build one of the top Tier 1 organizations in the country,” said Tony Zasowski, Commissioner of the THF. “We have an amazing group of operators that will support the growth and placement of all our hockey players to the highest levels.”

About the NCDC

The NCDC is the only tuition-free junior hockey league that is fully located in the Northeastern United States, limiting travel to New York, New Jersey and the New England states. This allows players to spend more time on development, both on-and off-ice, than traveling on a bus. With the unmatched USPHL Showcase Series, NCDC players have several opportunities each season to play in front of several scouts at well-attended multi-day, multi-tiered events. There are more than 700 former players from the USPHL’s top division skating with NCAA hockey teams during the 2021-22 season.More than 150 players committed to college hockey out of the 2020-21 NCDC season alone.

The NHL has also taken notice as the League saw three players selected directly out of the NCDC in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Alumni of USPHL/NCDC organizations currently skating in the NHL include players such as Jack Eichel, Charlie Coyle, John Marino, Jimmy Vesey, and Stanley Cup Champions Zach Sanford, Trevor Van Riemsdyk and Brian Dumoulin.

About The United States Premier Hockey League

The United States Premier Hockey League of 2021-2022 is the nation’s largest amateur ice hockey league and the only league to span the continental United States and parts of Canada. The USPHL fields approximately 550 teams representing over 100 organizations comprised of 11,000 players spanning the ages of 6 through 20. Overall, across all its divisions, the USPHL has more than 1,300 alumni playing college hockey in 2021-22 and more than 250 playing pro hockey, including in the NHL.

About the Tier 1 Hockey Federation

The Tier 1 Hockey Federation is a scheduling partnership designed to provide elite level competition through an unbalanced schedule among Tier 1 and elite clubs on the East Coast. The THF is managed by full-time professional staff and initially has over 100 elite or AAA teams from 9U-18U committed for its inaugural 2022-23 season. The THF brings together clubs from multiple leagues and states and is the only organization whose members operate franchises in the top junior hockey leagues in the US for NCAA Division I commitments: USHL, NAHL, NCDC and the top two junior hockey leagues for NCAA Division III commitments, the USPHL Premier Division and the Eastern Hockey League.

About Black Bear Sports Group, Inc.

Black Bear Sports Group, Inc. is a privately held company formed by Murry Gunty and Blackstreet Capital Holdings, LLC in 2015 that seeks investments in sports and entertainment facilities, teams and youth sports events. Black Bear arenas are clean and professionally managed and offer world-class recreational programs. Black Bear focuses on ice arenas in metropolitan areas with compelling demographics, a National Hockey League club presence and arenas with existing youth hockey clubs. The largest owner/operator of ice rinks in the U.S., Black Bear’s footprint totals 30 facilities across the United States with 55 sheets of indoor ice, four indoor turf fields, 23 youth hockey clubs, four youth hockey leagues (Atlantic Hockey FederationAtlantic Girls Hockey Federation, Tier 1 Hockey Federation and National Girls Hockey League), the nation’s largest adult hockey organization (Foundry Adult Hockey) and four Junior “A” hockey franchises in the United States Hockey League, North American Hockey League, United States Premier Hockey League and Eastern Hockey League.

Contact Info: Tony Zasowski, Commissioner, tzasowski@blackbearsportsgroup.com