The U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams are both heading overseas for their respective Five Nations Tournaments. The U17s head to Finland while the U18s travel to Sweden. Both tournaments feature the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden.
FINAL INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENT FOR U17 TEAM: After a bye week, the U17s close out their international schedule with the Five Nations Tournament Feb. 6-10, in Finland. Team USA opens play against Russia on Wednesday (Feb. 6) in Kellokoski, Finland, before meeting Sweden on Friday (Feb. 8) in Jarvenpaa, Finland. Czech Republic is up next on Saturday (Feb. 9) in Jarvenpaa. The U17s close out the tournament against host Finland on Sunday (Feb. 10), also in Jarvenpaa.
“It’s always nice to go back and play in our own age group," U17 head coach Danton Cole said. “The challenge in this tournament is playing four games against some really good countries in a short period of time. The consistency will be important, and we need to come out of the gates fast.
“We have Russia right out of the gate, so that will be tough. We need to be sound with our puck maintenance and have defensive intensity, then we should be in good shape. I want us to go out, be intense and carry the play and push back a little bit.”
The U17s have been off since dropping three United States Hockey League home games, one to Sioux Falls (4-1 on Jan. 25) and two to Dubuque (3-1 on Jan. 26 and 5-0 on Jan. 27).
OFF TO SWEDEN ON A HIGH NOTE: After winning their only game last week, the U18s are on their way to their second international tournament of the season this week when they play in the Five Nations Tournament Feb. 6-10, in Jonkoping, Sweden. The U18s open the tournament against Finland on Wednesday (Feb. 6) before playing the Czech Republic on Friday (Feb. 8). The squad closes out the tournament with Russia on Saturday (Feb. 9) before meeting host Sweden on Sunday (Feb. 10).
“This is a good test for our squad,” U18 head coach Don Granato said. “We will see a full compliment of players from other countries, and this will be our toughest international tournament to date. We are looking for our players to elevate their play and to understand what we are continuing to build towards. This is one of the last big steps before the end of the year. We are looking to play with consistency, focus and giving 100 percent effort on each and every shift.”
The U18s recorded a 3-2 win over Youngstown on Thursday (Jan. 31). Gage Ausmus (East Grand Forks, Minn.), Anthony Louis (Winfield, Ill.) and Tyler Motte (St. Clair, Mich.) scored goals in the win. Meanwhile, Hunter Miska (North Branch, Minn.) stopped 14 shots to earn the win in net.
• Former National Team Development Program defenseman David Tanabe (White Bear Lake, Minn./1997-98) spent last week coaching and assisting the NTDP with practice. Tanabe, who was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in 1999, was the first NTDP player to be drafted in the first round (No. 16 overall) and the first to play in the National Hockey League. He spent nine seasons playing in the NHL.
• Heading into the Five Nations Tournament in Finland, the U17s carry a 13-23-2 (W-L-OTL).
• In international play, the U17s are 8-2-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) this season. They won the Four Nations Tournament in Switzerland in November and placed third at the World Under-17 Challenge in January in Quebec. The team’s lone loss is to Russia, a 6-4 defeat in the semifinals at the U17 Challenge on Jan. 3.
• Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y./16-19) paces the U17s with 35 points. Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./15-12) is second with 27 points while Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb./12-14) ranks third with 26 points. Rounding out the top five are Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich./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 (Wind Gap, Pa.) is 7-15-2 (W-L-OTL) with a 4.44 goals-against average and a .869 save percentage. Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.) is 0-1-0 with a 2.61 GAA and a .931 save percentage.
• Since 2007, the U18 squad has taken home top honors at the Five Nations Cup four times (2007-09, 2011) and placed second once (2010).
• The U18s carry a 24-9-3-4 (W-L-OTL-T) record into international play.
• The U18 squad has played just one international tournament, winning the Four Nations Tournament at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube in November. Team USA posted a 3-1 win over Sweden in the championship game on Nov. 10.
• Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass./20-20) paces the U18s with 40 points. Tied for second with 30 points each are Anthony Louis (15-13) and Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich./15-15). Tyler Motte (16-11) is fourth with 27 points while Sean Malone (West Seneca, N.Y./12-12) rounds out the fifth spot with 24 points.
• In goal for the U18s, Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif.) is 16-5-0-3 (W-L-OTL-T) along with a 2.14 GAA and a .911 save percentage. Hunter Miska is 8-4-3-1 with a 2.78 GAA and an .860 save percentage.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.