It will be a busy week for the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams. The U17s play three straight United States Hockey League home contests this weekend while the U18s play three road contests in a six-day span.
U17 SQUAD CONTINUES HOMESTAND: After picking up their first USHL win since Sept. 28, 2012, the U17s continue their home stand with three contests this weekend. The team entertains Sioux Falls on Friday (Jan. 25) before hosting the Dubuque Fighting Saints on Saturday (Jan. 26) and Sunday (Jan. 27) at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. Friday and Saturday games start at 7 p.m. EST while Sunday’s begins at 3:30 p.m.
Sioux Falls and Dubuque are the top teams in the USHL Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively.
“It’s huge [to have back-to-back home weekends],” U17 coach Danton Cole said. “We have a heck of a challenge this weekend with the two first-place teams in here for three games. It will be a great test. Hopefully we can ramp up and have a great week of practice and battle hard for three games.”
The U17s split two USHL games last week, falling 6-3 to Indiana on Thursday (Jan. 17) before rebounding with 4-3 shootout win over Sioux City on Saturday (Jan. 19).
Against Indiana, Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) and Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.) each tallied a goal and an assist while Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) added a single tally in a the loss. Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) made 35 saves.
Nolan Stevens (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) and Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.) scored in regulation to pace the offensive attack against Sioux City while Minney kicked out 41 shots. In the shootout, Milano and Bjork each found the net while Minney stopped two of three shooters for the USA victory.
“It’s real important [to get that win against Sioux City],” Cole said. “You put in the work and put in the work, we have been getting close but we haven’t been able to do the job defensively to get us over the hump in some of those games. They have gotten away from us in the third period even though we have played well. That has been a focus this past week. I thought we did a real good job, and the kids were rewarded by how hard they worked.”
U18 SQUAD FACES COLLEGE FOES: After posting back-to-back USHL wins, the U18s head out on the road for three college games. The squad travels to Michigan State University on Tuesday (Jan. 22) before closing out the week with games at the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday (Jan. 26) and at Wisconsin-Superior on Sunday (Jan. 27).
“This is another good challenge for our squad,” U18 coach Don Granato said. “Our goal this week is to string together three solid games in all areas of the ice. We want to continue to improve as we get close to our second international tournament of the season, the Five Nations in Sweden in early February.”
The U18s recorded back-to-back USHL victories last week, posting a 4-1 over Indiana on Friday (Jan. 18) and a 4-2 win against Chicago on Sunday (Jan. 20).
Sean Malone (West Seneca, N.Y.), John Hayden (Greenwich, Conn.), Keaton Thompson (Devils Lake, N.D.) and Tyler Motte (St. Clair, Mich.) provided the offense and Hunter Miska (North Branch, Minn.) stopped 14 shots to earn the win against Indiana.
Motte provided the offensive spark against the Steel with a pair of goals while Kevin Labanc (Staten Island, N.Y.) and J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill.) added single tallies. Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif.) posted 24 stops in net for the win.
“It was great for the program to help the U17s and get two USHL wins this week,” Granato said. “We challenged the team to go out and battle hard, and they did and were rewarded with four points. This weekend should serve as a springboard for the upcoming week.”
NTDP PROSPECTS FOR NHL DRAFT LOOKING GOOD: NHL Central Scouting released its mid-term rankings on Tuesday. Seventeen current and former NTDP players were on the North American list, including Seth Jones (Plano, Texas/2010-12), who was ranked the No. 1 skater among North American players eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft.
The last time a blueliner was selected with the first pick was in 2006 when Erik Johnson (Bloomington, Minn./2004-06) went to the St. Louis Blues. The last NTDP player to be drafted first overall was Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y./2004-06), who went to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007.
In addition to Jones, J.T. Compher (20th), Ryan Hartman (West Dundee, Ill./2010-12/25th), Michael McCarron (Macomb, Mich./31st), Hudson Fasching (Burnsville, Minn./42nd), Steve Santini (Mahopac, N.Y./47th), Keaton Thompson (51st), John Hayden (59th), Connor Clifton (Matawan, N.J./73rd), Sean Malone (98th), Tyler Motte (109th), Dakota Mermis (Alton, Ill./2010-11/156th), Clint Lewis (Burnsville, Minn./164th), Will Butcher (Sun Prairie, Wis./170th), Quentin Shore (Denver, Colo./2010-12/186th), Andrew Copp (Ann Arbor, Mich./2010-12/189th) and Cole Bardreau (Fairport, N.Y./2009-11/205th) are ranked.
• Forty-six former NTDP players were on NHL Opening Day rosters. No other individual program in the world has that many players in the NHL. Stefan Matteau (Chicago, Ill./2010-12) became the first NTDP player to be on the opening day roster the year after he played for the program when he played for New Jersey this weekend.
• Six former NTDP players have been selected to participate in the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic, which runs Jan. 27-28 in Providence, R.I. Chad Kolarik (Abington, Pa./2002-04/Connecticut) will play for the AHL Eastern Conference All-Star Team. Suiting up for the AHL Western Conference All-Star team are Adam Clendening (Niagara Falls, N.Y./2008-10/Rochester), Kevin Porter (Detroit, Mich./2002-04/Rochester), Drew Shore (Denver, Colo./2007-09/San Antonio), Brett Sterling (Pasadena, Calif./2000-02/Chicago) and Jason Zucker (Las Vegas, Nev./2008-10/Houston).
• William Wrenn (Anchorage, Alaska/2007-09/Alaska) has been selected to the ECHL All-Star Game. The game will be played on Wednesday in Loveland, Colo.
• The U18s will see a familiar face this week. Matt McNeely (Burnsville, Minn./2009-11) is a freshman netminder for the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
• U18 forward John Hayden has been selected to participate in the 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday (Jan. 23) in Muskegon, Mich. Former NTDP forward Cameron Darcy (2010-12/South Boston, Mass.), who now plays for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, will also play in the game.
• After taking six out of eight possible points in USHL play last weekend, Team USA improved to 9-20-4 (W-L-OTL) in league play. The 4-3 shootout win over Sioux City marked the U17s first USHL victory since a 6-1 win over Des Moines on Sept. 28, 2012.
• The U17s carry a 13-20-2 (W-L-OTL) into this weekend’s action.
• The U17s are paced by Sonny Milano (15-19) with 34 points. Jack Eichel (15-12) is second with 27 points, while Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb./12-14) ranks third with 26 points. Rounding out the top five scorers are Dylan Larkin (8-14) and Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y./7-12), who are fourth and fifth, respectively, with 22 and 19 points.
• In goal for the U17s, Edwin Minney is 7-13-2 with a 4.44 goals-against average and an .867 save percentage. Blake Weyrick is 0-0-0 with a 2.18 GAA and a .950 save percentage.
• Heading into Tuesday’s game at Michigan State, the U18s have posted an 8-5-4 (W-L-T) mark against NCAA competition.
• Overall, the U18s hold 21-8-3-4 (W-L-OTL-T) record heading into this week’s play.
• Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass./17-18) paces the U18s with 35 points while Anthony Louis (Winfield, Ill./14-13) ranks second with 27 points. Tyler Motte (15-11) holds down the third spot with 26 points. Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich./13-12) is fourth with 25 points while Sean Malone (12-10) is fifth with 22 points.
• In goal for the U18s, Thatcher Demko is 15-4-0-3 (W-L-OTL-T) with a 2.20 GAA and a .908 save percentage. Hunter Miska is 6-4-3-1 with a 2.97 GAA and an .857 save percentage.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.