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Notebook (Dec. 16) - NTDP Breaks for the Holidays

12/16/2013, 3:00pm EST
By Becky Olsen

The U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams will enjoy a brief break for the holidays before returning to action. The U17s are off until Dec. 28, when the squad heads to World Under-17 Challenge, while the U18s return to the ice on Dec. 31, for a road game at Miami University.

OFF UNTIL WORLD CHALLENGE: The U.S. National Under-17 Team, which closed the first half of the season with a 14-11-0 record (W-L-OTL), returns from a brief holiday break to compete in the World Under-17 Challenge in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, from Dec. 28-Jan. 4.

Team USA will be in Group B along with Atlantic, Germany, Ontario and Russia. The other side of the bracket features the Czech Republic, Pacific, Quebec, Sweden and West.

“We will be able to spend some time in practice this week, working on some different areas of our game,” head coach Don Granato said. “It will be good for our players to be able to go home at the end of the week for a few days and spend some time with their families. The World Under-17 Challenge is a great tournament with an excellent history, and we are looking forward to playing against our age group.”

The U17s are coming off a two-game United States Hockey League road split last weekend. They beat Dubuque 5-4 on Friday before falling 6-4 at Waterloo on Saturday.

“We finished the first half of our season on a positive note, gaining a split in a tough USHL road trip,” Granato said. “We need to continue to work hard each night and then we see success on the ice.”

In the win over Dubuque, Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.), Dennis Yan (Troy, Mich.), Casey Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass.), Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill.) registered the goals. Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) kicked out 29 of 33 shots to earn the win.

Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) paced the offensive with two goals at Waterloo, while Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) and Yan added the other markers. Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) stopped 40 shots in net.

BREAK FOR U18s: After being swept in two college games last week, the U.S. National Under-18 Team will enjoy its first half break. The squad returns to action on Dec. 31, when it heads to Miami University to face the RedHawks.

“Overall, our team should feel positive about what we have accomplished and where we are at as a team during the first half of the season,” head coach Danton Cole said. “We need to continue to work hard, and it definitely shows what this team can accomplish when they put their minds to it.”

In the 4-1 loss at Utica College on Saturday, Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) scored the lone goal. Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.) stopped 27 shots in his first game since Sept. 29. Jared Fiegl (Parker, Colo.) scored the U18s single marker in a 2-1 loss at RPI on Sunday, and Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) made 29 saves.

Notebook

• Former NTDP player Jerry D’Amigo (Binghamton, N.Y./2007-09) potted his first National Hockey League goal on Saturday in Toronto’s 7-3 win over Chicago. D’Amigo, who was called up on Dec. 5, from the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, made his debut that night.

• For a second straight week, former NTDP forward Austin Czarnik (Washington, Mich./2008-10/Miami) earned National College Hockey Conference (NCHC) Offensive Player of the Week honors for Dec. 2-8. Czarnik registered two goals and four points in Miami’s split with the University of Denver.

Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif./2012-13/Boston College) was selected as the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week on Dec. 9. Demko kicked out 28 shots in a 2-1 win at the University of New Hampshire on Dec. 7.

Ryan Haggerty (Stamford, Conn./2009-11/Rensselaer) was named the ECAC Player of the Week on Dec. 10. Haggerty finished with three goals and four points in RPI’s tie against Quinnipiac and win over Princeton.

• The Big Ten Conference recognized former NTDP forward Nic Kerdiles (Irvine, Calif./2010-12/Wisconsin) as a First Star on Dec. 10. In a two-game sweep of Penn State, Kerdiles added two goals and four points, including the game-winner on Saturday.

• Team USA is a combined 16-12-1 (W-L-OTL) in USHL play this season and is tied for first with Dubuque in the Eastern Conference standings.

• Through the first 25 games, the U17s are averaging 4.48 goals per game while allowing 3.92 goals per game.

• Heading into the break, Jeremy Bracco (9-24) paces the U17s with 33 points. Colin White (13-14) ranks second with 27 points and Luke Kirwan (Dewitt, N.Y./11-10) is third with 21 points. A trio of players are tied for fourth with 19 points, including Luke Kunin (10-9), Jordan Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y./8-11), and Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass./4-15).

• In net, Michael Lackey and Luke Opilka continue to split time for the U17s. Lackey is 7-6-0 with a 3.44 goals-against average and an .879 save percentage. Meanwhile, Opilka is 7-5-0 with a 4.25 GAA and an .852 save percentage.

• The U18s hold an overall mark of 18-8-1 (W-L-OTL), including a 3-5-0 mark against NCAA competition heading into the break.

Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y./14-32) continues to pace the U18s with 46 points. Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./19-20) ranks second with 39 points, while Alex Tuch (19-16) is third with 35 points. Rounding out the top five are Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich./15-9) and Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y./5-19) with 24 points each.

• In goal for the U18s, Edwin Minney holds a 10-5-1 mark along with a 2.70 GAA and a .904 save percentage. Blake Weyrick is 3-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .925 save percentage.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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