The U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 squads will head in opposite directions this weekend for games. The U17s will go west to Nebraska while the U18s swing out to the Northeast for college action.
NEBRASKA CALLING: The U17s have a two-game United States Hockey League road swing in Nebraska this weekend. The squad will play at the Omaha Lancers on Friday (Dec. 7) before traveling to the Tri-City Storm on Saturday (Dec. 8). Omaha and Tri-City are tied for sixth in the USHL Western Conference with 22 points each.
“This is going to be a couple of tough road games,” U17 coach Danton Cole said. “We are going to be looking for continued improvement. We need to work on getting out of our own zone, working on our offense and protecting the puck. We need to keep working on getting better as we close to the World Under-17 Challenge.”
The U17s dropped a 2-1 decision at Muskegon on Saturday. Ryan MacInnis (St. Louis, Mo.) scored the goal for Team USA, while Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) kicked out 40 of 42 shots in net.
“I thought our guys played well,” Cole said. “They played hard and did a good job competing against a tough Muskegon team. We came up a little short, but there is no questioning our effort in that game.”
MORE COLLEGE GAMES FOR U18 TEAM: The U18s travel east for a two-game road trip this weekend. The squad will play at Merrimack College in Massachusetts on Saturday (Dec. 8) before heading to the University of New Hampshire on Sunday (Dec. 9).
“We have another tough stretch of games this week,” U18 coach Don Granato said. “As we discovered last weekend, we need to have a consistent 60-minute effort in order to have success. We have been playing better as a team, but there is always work to do.
“For several of our players who are from out east, this is an opportunity to play in front of their family and friends, which will be fun for them. This is also a special treat for [Tyler] Kelleher and [Shane] Eiserman, who will be playing against their future college team.”
Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass.) and Eiserman (West Newbury, Mass.) have both committed to play for New Hampshire after their NTDP careers.
The U18s posted a win and a tie in a two-game set over the weekend at Alabama-Huntsville. In game one, a 6-2 win, Hudson Fasching (Burnsville, Minn.) registered two goals and four points to pace the offensive attack. Kelleher, Connor Clifton (Matawan, N.J.), Will Butcher (Sun Prairie, Wis.) and J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill.) also tallied goals. Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif.) stopped 17 shots to earn the win.
Sean Malone (West Seneca, N.Y.) scored the lone goal in a 1-1 overtime tie in game two. Hunter Miska (North Branch, Minn.) kicked out 22 of 23 shots to earn the tie.
• Former NTDP forward John Henrion (Holden, Mass./2008-09) is a member of New Hampshire hockey team.
• The U18s hold a 4-4-3 (W-L-T) mark against NCAA competition this season, including a 1-4-3 record against Division I foes.
• Since returning to the line-up after missing 13 straight games due to injury, J.T. Compher has compiled four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in his last three games.
• Tyler Kelleher (12-11) paces the U18s in scoring with 23 points. Anthony Louis (Winfield, Ill./12-7) is second with 19 points while Tyler Motte (St. Clair, Mich./8-9) is third with 17 points. Sean Malone (7-9) is fourth with 16 points. Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich./10-5) and Will Butcher (4-11) round out the top six scorers with 15 points each.
• Meanwhile, in goal for the U18s, Thatcher Demko has a 10-2-0-2 (W-L-OTL-L) record along with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. Hunter Miska is 4-4-1-1 with a 3.52 GAA and an .846 save percentage.
• Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./6-10) leads the U17s in scoring with 16 points, while Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y./8-7) is second with 15 points. Joe Wegwerth (Brewster, N.Y./7-5) and Brandon Fortunato (North Hills, N.Y./0-12) are tied for third with 12 points. Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y./6-5), Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb./5-6) and Jack Glover (Golden Valley, Minn./2-9) round out the top seven scorers with 11 points apiece.
• In goal, Edwin Minney has seen the majority of the action in net for the U17s, posting a 4-8-1 (W-L-OTL) record, a 4.37 GAA and an .869 save percentage.
• The U17s lone goal against Muskegon broke a scoreless string of 175:33 minutes.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.