Both the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams return to the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Ice Cube for a combined four United States Hockey League games this weekend. Team USA has recorded a 6-19-4 (W-L-OTL) mark in USHL play this season, including a 4-7-2 mark in home games.
U18 SQUAD RETURNS HOME: After splitting a pair of games at Penn State University over the weekend, the U18s return to USHL play with a pair of home contests. The squad will entertain Indiana at 7 p.m. EST on Friday (Jan. 18) before meeting Chicago at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 20). Both games will take place at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.
“It will be nice to play two games at home this weekend. It’s always great for our players to be able to play at home before their family and friends,” Under-18 coach Don Granato said. “We will be looking for a 60-minute effort from our players. Our goal is to play with consistency and effort this weekend.”
Over the weekend, the U18s fell 5-2 against Penn State on Friday (Jan. 11) before rebounding with a 3-0 victory on Saturday (Jan. 12). Connor Clifton (Matawan, N.J.) and J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill.) scored the goals and Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif.) stopped 25 shots in game one.
In game two, Demko kicked out 25 shots to earn the shutout. Sean Malone (West Seneca, N.Y.), Michael McCarron (Macomb, Mich.) and Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich.) provided the goals in the victory.
U17 TEAM IS HOME TOO: Fresh off a two-game USHL road stand, the U17s will play two games at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube this weekend. The team faces Indiana on Thursday (Jan. 17) and Sioux City on Saturday (Jan. 19). The puck drops at 7 p.m. both nights.
“We are working on improving our consistency and effort this week," said Under-17 coach Danton Cole on what he looks for from his team. “We are getting better at it, but we need to start out better. We need to make the appropriate decisions and make sure that we aren’t doing things the wrong way. Instead, we need to do the right things, shift-after-shift, and then we will have some success.”
The U17s picked up one point in a two-game USHL road trip over the weekend, falling 6-2 at Waterloo on Friday (Jan. 11) and 4-3 in a shootout at Des Moines on Saturday (Jan. 12).
Against Waterloo, Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.) and Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) netted goals. Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) and Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.) combined to make 39 stops.
Minney kicked out 43 of 46 shots at Des Moines. Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y.), Blake Christensen (Rochester Hills, Mich.) and Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb.) scored to pace the offensive attack. In the shootout, Milano scored the lone goal for Team USA in four rounds.
“It was a great test for our team, just one week after the U17 Challenge,” Cole said, referring to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in which Team USA placed third. “Mentally, it was the biggest thing we had to deal with —getting the guys back into game mode and ready to compete in the USHL. It was spotty on Friday, but on Saturday I thought we competed hard on the ice and showed improvement.”
• Team USA will face two former players this weekend as defenseman Joe Fiala (Verona, Wis./2009-11) now plays for the Indiana Ice and forward Nikolas Olsson (Escondido, Calif./2010-12) plays for the Sioux City Musketeers.
• With his 25 saves in a 3-0 shutout against Penn State, U18 goalie Thatcher Demko recorded his fourth shutout of the season. The four blankings tie him for third on the NTDP’s single-season shutouts list. Jack Campbell (Port Huron, Mich./2008-09) and Jeff Frazee (Burnsville, Minn./2004-05) share the single-season mark with six.
• In addition, the four shutouts tie Demko for ninth on the National Team Development Program’s career shutout list. Jack Campbell (2008-10) holds the all-time mark with 10 shutouts.
• The U18s are 8-5-4 (W-L-T) against NCAA competition. The squad has four contests left against college foes, including three NCAA Division I teams (Jan. 22 at Michigan State, Jan. 26 at Minnesota-Duluth and Feb. 21 at Nebraska-Omaha).
• The U18s will carry a 19-8-3-4 (W-L-OTL-T) into this weekend’s USHL action. The squad is averaging 3.65 goals per game while allowing just 2.62 goals.
• Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass./17-18) paces the U18s with 35 points. Anthony Louis (Winfield, Ill./14-11) and Evan Allen (13-12) are tied for second with 25 points. Tyler Motte (St. Clair, Mich./12-10) with 22 points and Sean Malone (11-9) with 20 points rank fourth and fifth, respectively, on the squad.
• Meanwhile, in goal for the U18s, Thatcher Demko is 14-4-0-3 (W-L-OTL-T) along with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. Hunter Miska is 5-4-3-1 with a 3.13 GAA and an .853 save percentage.
• The U17s carry a 12-19-2 (W-L-OTL) into this weekend’s action.
• Sonny Milano (14-17) paces the U17s with 31 points. Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./14-12) and Chris Wilkie (12-14) are tied for second with 26 points. Ryan Hitchcock (8-10), Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich./7-11) and Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y./7-11) round out the top six with 18 points apiece.
• In goal for the U17s, Edwin Minney is 6-12-2 with a 4.46 GAA and an .863 save percentage. Blake Weyrick is 0-0-0 with a 2.18 GAA and a .950 save percentage. Weyrick, who has missed most of the season due to injury, saw his first extended action of the season on Friday at Waterloo. He stopped 13 shots in 24:07 of action.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.