ANN ARBOR, Mich. - USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, which enters its 17th season on ice in 2013-14, today announced the roster and schedule for its U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team. The squad, comprised of some of the top American-born players in the 1996 birth year, will compete against teams from the United States Hockey League and NCAA Division I and III schools, in addition to participating in three international competitions.
Highlighting the 22-player roster are forward Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) and goaltender Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.), who were a part of the U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team that captured the silver medal at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's Under-18 World Championship held in Sochi, Russia.
Nineteen players on the roster are returning for their second year with the NTDP, including defensemen Louie Belpedio (Skokie, Ill.), Nathan Billitier (Spencerport, N.Y.), Ryan Bliss (Chelmsford, Mass.), Ryan Collins (Bloomington, Minn.), Brandon Fortunato (North Hills, N.Y.), Jack Glover (Golden Valley, Minn.) and Johnathan MacLeod (Dracut, Mass.); forwards Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.), Eichel, Jared Fiegl (Parker, Colo.), Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y.), Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.), Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.), Dylan Pavelek (Marysville, Mich.), Nolan Stevens (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) and Joe Wegwerth (Brewtser, N.Y.); and goaltenders Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) and Weyrick.
Defenseman Jack Dougherty (Cottage Grove, Minn.) joins the squad after spending last season with St. Thomas Academy (Minn.). He is currently skating with the U.S. Under-18 Select Team in the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia. Previously, Dougherty helped the U.S. Under-17 Select Team compile a perfect 5-0 record and capture first place at the 2012 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Chomutov, Czech Republic.
Forwards Shane Gersich (Chaska, Minn.) and Ryan Wagner (Park Ridge, Ill.) also earned a spot on the U.S. National Under-18 Team roster for the 2013-14 season. Gersich most recently completed a season with Holy Family Catholic High School (Minn.), accumulating 62 points (28-34) in 25 games. Gersich also earned a title with the 2012 U.S. Under-17 Select Team at the Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic and represented Team USA at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Wagner comes to the NTDP from the Chicago Mission midget minor program, where he scored 12 goals and added 13 assists in 23 games. He also helped his team capture the 2013 Toyota-USA Hockey National Championship at the Tier I Youth 16U level, tallying nine points in six contests. Wagner is currently competing with the U.S. Under-18 Select Team at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Danton Cole will guide the U.S. National Under-18 team in 2013-14, after serving behind the bench for the Under-17 Team last season. John Gruden will enter his third season as an assistant to Cole, while Daniel Naurato will serve as intern assistant coach for the first time this season.
To view the complete roster, click here.
The U.S. National Under-18 Team will open the season on the road in the USHL Fall Classic East. The preseason tournament will feature tilts against the Chicago Steel (Sept. 13) and Youngstown Phantoms (Sept. 14), before Team USA opens the regular season on Sept. 20 versus Youngstown at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. The team's first collegiate game will come at Northern Michigan University on Oct. 5. The U.S. National Under-18 Team will compete in the 2012 Four Nations Tournament from Nov. 6-10, in Finland and the 2013 Five Nations Tournament from Feb. 5-10, in Russia. The season culminates with the 2014 IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championship April 10-27 in Lappeenranta, Finland.
Tickets for home games played at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube are $7 for adults and $5 for children, seniors and active military members. Youth hockey players wearing their team jerseys are admitted for just $1 and group rates are available. Tickets can be purchased by calling the NTDP at (734) 327-9251.
For the complete schedule, click here.
The 22 players on the U.S. roster represent nine different states. New York leads the way with six natives on the roster, while Minnesota boasts four and Massachusetts has three … A total of 20 members of Team USA have verbally committed to NCAA Division I schools … Of the 16 games against college opponents, 12 are against NCAA Division I schools, including three that finished the 2012-13 season ranked in the top 15 of the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll (No. 4 St. Cloud State University, No. 5 Miami University and No. 7 University of North Dakota) … The U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams utilize The Hockey IntelliGym, a revolutionary software program that trains hockey sense. To learn more, visit USAHockeyIntelliGym.com.
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