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Notebook (Jan. 20) - Four USHL Road Tests Await NTDP Squads

01/20/2014, 1:00pm EST
By Becky Olsen

The U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams will both hit the road this weekend for a combined four United States Hockey League contests. Team USA is 16-16-1 (W-L-OTL) in USHL play and sits seventh in the Eastern Conference standings.

RESTED AND READY: After enjoying a bye week, the U.S. National Under-17 Team heads back out on the road for two conference contests. The U17s travel to Muskegon, Mich., on Friday to face the Lumberjacks before heading to Green Bay, Wis., to meet the Gamblers on Saturday.

“We had a good week of practice and our players are ready to get back out on the ice in a game situation,” head coach Don Granato said. “We have two tough opponents to prepare for this weekend, and we will have a very short turnaround between our Friday and Saturday games.”

The U17s have been off since Jan. 11, when the squad dropped a 6-3 decision at Youngstown.

WEEKEND AWAY: The U.S. National Under-18 Team heads back out on the road for a pair of USHL games. The squad will travels to Youngstown, Ohio, to face the Phantoms on Friday before heading to Muskegon, Mich., on Saturday to meet the Lumberjacks.

“The last couple games were good for us,” head coach Danton Cole said. “It got us back, playing a little faster and playing the way we need to play. We want to get our penalty kill and power play clicking, essentially the rhythm of how we play, before we go over overseas [in early February].”

The U18s dropped a pair of one-goal games last weekend, falling 3-2 to Muskegon on Friday and 2-1 to Waterloo on Saturday. Against Muskegon, Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y.) and Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) registered the goals. Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) stopped 19 of 22 shots in net. In the loss to Waterloo, Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.) stopped 30 shots, while Larkin registered the lone tally.

NTDP AND NHL MID-TERM RANKINGS: The National Hockey League's Central Scouting released its midterm rankings of top prospects eligible for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft last week. Of the 217 players ranked, 24 skaters have ties to USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, including 14 current members of the U18 Team and the top three North American goaltenders.

Former NTDP netminder and current Boston College Eagle Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif./2010-2012) sits atop the list, while U18 netminders Edwin Minney and Blake Weyrick rank second and third, respectively. Former NTDP netminder Hunter Miska (North Branch, Minn./2011-13) is also ranked.

Six current or former NTDP skaters are slated to be selected in the first round, including U18 forwards Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.), Dylan Larkin, Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) and defensemen Jack Glover (Golden Valley, Minn.) and Jack Dougherty (Cottage Grove, Minn.). Additionally, Connor Chatham (Belleville, Ill./2011-12) is also projected to be a first-round pick.

The other NTDP players named on the list are Ryan Collins (Bloomington, Minn.), Ryan MacInnis (St. Louis, Mo./2012-13), Shane Eiserman (West Newbury, Mass./2012-13), Johnathan MacLeod (Dracut, Mass.), Josh Wesley (Raleigh, N.C./2012-13), Shane Gersich (Chaska, Minn.), Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.), Kevin Labanc (Staten Island, N.Y./2011-13), Ryan Hitchcock, Jared Fiegl (Parker, Colo.), Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb./2012-13), Joe Wegwerth (Brewster, N.Y.), Scott Savage (San Clemente, Calif./2011-13) and Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich./2011-13).

Notebook

  • Three former NTDP players currently suit up for the Green Bay Gamblers. They are forwards Dawson Cook (Cadillac, Mich./2011-13) and Gavin Stoick (Portland, Ore./2010-12) along with goaltender Jared Rutledge (Chicago, Ill./2010-12).
  • Former NTDP and current Western Michigan University forward Chase Balisy (Fullerton, Calif./2008-10) was selected as the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 6-12. He recorded five points, including two goals, in a two-game sweep of Miami University.
  • University of Wisconsin forward Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill./2008-10) was selected as the Big Ten First Star on Jan. 14. The forward registered five points, including his first career hat trick, in a two-game sweep of the University of Michigan.
  • Former NTDP netminder Andy Iles (Ithaca, N.Y./2009-10), who currently plays for Cornell University, was one of 18 NCAA hockey players nominated for the 2014 Hockey Humanitarian Award. The award, in its 19th year, recognizes college hockey’s finest citizen and includes players from all NCAA divisions and both genders. Finalists will be announced in February, and the 2014 recipient will be named at the Frozen Four in Philadelphia on Friday, April 11.
  • The U17s carry a 21-13-0 (W-L-OTL) mark into this week’s action. The squad is averaging 4.97 goals per game while allowing 3.44 goals per game.
  • The U17s are paced by Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y./13-36), who has compiled 49 points in 34 games. Colin White (Hanover, Mass./26-21) ranks second with 47 points, while Luke Kirwan (Dewitt, N.Y./19-20) sits third with 39 points. Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo./13-13) and Jordan Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y./11-15) are tied for fourth with 26 points apiece.
  • In net for the U17s, Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) and Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) split duties. Lackey holds an 11-7-0 record along with a 2.92 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage. Opilka is 10-6-0 with a 3.85 GAA and an .886 save percentage.
  • The U18s carry a mark of 20-13-1 (W-L-OTL) into this week’s action.
  • The U18s are paced by Sonny Milano (14-33), who has registered 47 points in 32 games. Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./21-20) ranks second with 41 points, while Alex Tuch (20-18) sits third with 38 points. Dylan Larkin (17-13) and Ryan Hitchcock (7-23) are tied for fourth with 30 points each.
  • In goal for the U18s, Edwin Minney holds an 11-7-1 mark along with a 2.89 GAA and an .897 save percentage. Blake Weyrick is 4-4-0 with a 3.15 GAA and an .889 save percentage.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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