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Notebook (Feb. 25) - Under-18 Squad Looks to Build Upon Recent Wins

02/26/2013, 9:45am EST
By Becky Olsen

Both the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams will see United States Hockey League action this week. The U18s play a home game and a road contest while the U17s return to action with a pair of home games.

HOME AND AWAY FOR U18 TEAM: After earning three road victories last week, the U18s continue USHL play this week when they host the Muskegon Lumberjacks on Friday (March 1) at the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Ice Cube before heading to Green Bay, Wis., to face the Gamblers on Sunday (March 3).

“This is a big weekend coming up for our squad,” U18 head coach Don Granato said. “We are looking for that same momentum and intensity we displayed last weekend. There are always areas of the game that we can work on, whether it is the power play, shorthanded situations or 5-on-5, and we will work on it during practice this week so we can apply these situations in the games.”

The U18s swept a three-game road series last week. Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif.) and Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.) combined for 19 stops in a 4-0 win over Chicago on Wednesday (Feb. 20) to open the schedule. Kevin Labanc (Staten Island, N.Y.), Hudson Fasching (Burnsville, Minn.), Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass.) and John Hayden (Greenwich, Conn.) registered the goals in the win.

Hayden, Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.), Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich.), Dawson Cook (Cadillac, Mich.) and Keaton Thompson (Devils Lake, N.D.) provided the offense in a 5-3 win over Lincoln on Friday (Feb. 22). Demko and Weyrick combined in net for 24 saves.

The U18s closed out the week with a 3-2 win over the University of Nebraska Omaha on Saturday (Feb. 23) after the original game (Thursday, Feb. 21) had to be moved due to inclement weather. Cook, Thompson and Allen scored in the game. Demko had 15 saves.

“This was a huge weekend for our team, and our players responded well coming off a bye week,” Granato said. “Anytime you can string together three road wins, it speaks volumes to the effort of the players. They worked hard on the ice and were rewarded. Even with the adversity of moving a game due to the weather, they found a way to battle through it.”

U17 TEAM IS BACK IN ACTION: Coming off a bye week, the U17s will host the Chicago Steel for a pair of USHL contests on Saturday (March 2) and Sunday (March 3) at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.

“The break was nice for our players, who were able to go home for four days, but it will be good to get back out on the ice and practice this week," said U17 head coach Danton Cole, whose squad has been off since earning one point in a 4-3 shootout loss at Indiana on Feb. 17. “We have a key USHL series this weekend and our goal will be to come out strong, carry the play and have defensive intensity.”

• Former National Team Development Program head coach Ron Rolston (2004-11) was named the interim head coach of the Nataionl Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 20. He became the 16th head coach in franchise history, after spending 2011-13 as head coach of the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

Rolston, the most-decorated coach in NTDP history, was the first coach in program history to lead the U18 team to three gold medals (2005, 2009, 2011) at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Under-18 Championship. He also has a silver medal from 2007, in his other appearance.

Rolston served as coach for the U.S. National Junior Team in 2007 and 2009 at the IIHF U20 World Championship. The 2007 squad won a bronze medal.

• Two familiar faces will face the U18s this week. Forward Cameron Darcy (South Boston, Mass./2010-12) plays for Muskegon while defenseman Barrett Kaib (Upper St. Clair, Pa./2009-11) suits up for Green Bay.

• U18 assistant coach Nick Fohr made his head coaching debut in the 5-3 win over Lincoln on Friday (Feb. 22) as head coach Don Granato missed the contest due to illness.

• U17 players Jack Eichel and Blake Weyrick played with the U18 squad this past weekend. Eichel scored one goal in three games while Weyrick posted a 1-0 mark in net, along with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage.

• Team USA is a combined 12-24-5 (W-L-OTL) in USHL play this season, including an 8-12-4 record in games played at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.

• The U18s finished the year with an 11-6-4 (W-L-T) record against NCAA competition, including a 6-6-4 record against Division I opponents.

• Heading into this week’s action, the U18s hold a 29-12-3-4 (W-L-OTL-T) mark. The squad has posted a 7-3 record in its last 10 contests and has won four straight games.

• Tyler Kelleher (23-24) leads the U18s with 47 points. Evan Allen (18-18) ranks second with 36 points while Anthony Louis (Winfield, Ill./17-16) is third with 33 points. Tyler Motte (St. Clair, Mich./17-12) places fourth with 29 points and J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill./10-18) rounds out the top-five with 28 points.

• In goal for the U18s, Thatcher Demko is 18-6-0-3 (W-L-OTL-T) with a 2.13 GAA and a .910 save percentage. Hunter Miska (North Branch, Minn.) is 8-5-3-1 with a 2.86 GAA and an .857 save percentage.

• The U17s have a 15-25-4 (W-L-OTL) record entering this week. The squad is averaging 3.27 goals per game while allowing 4.02 goals per game.

• The U17s are paced in offense by Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y./17-24) who has tallied 41 points in 44 games. Jack Eichel (19-15) is second with 35 points while Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb./12-16) ranks third with 28 points. Rounding out the top-five are Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich./11-14) in fourth with 25 points and Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y./10-14) in fifth with 24 points.

• In goal for the U17s, Edwin Minney is 8-16-3 (W-L-OTL) with a 4.20 GAA and an .873 save percentage. His counterpart, Blake Weyrick, is 1-3-0 with a 2.61 GAA and a .920 save percentage.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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