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Notebook (Feb. 17) - NTDP Squads Face Road Contests this Week

02/17/2014, 1:45pm EST
By Becky Olsen

The U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams will both hit the road this week for a combined four contests. The U18s play three contests, including one college opponent, while the U17s have a single game.

BACK TO ACTION: After a bye week, the U.S. National Under-18 Team returns to action this week with three contests. The U18s head out on the road to face the Bowling Green State University Falcons on Friday. The squad then travels to Indianapolis to face the United States Hockey League’s Ice on Saturday and Sunday.

“I think having last weekend off was good for us,” head coach Danton Cole said. “Physically we were fine, but mentally it was a good break. It seems that we do things in eight-week segments around here. When the guys get back, we will have eight weeks until we leave for the world championships.

“It was a good team break and the players were able to go home, refresh their minds and get their body ready to prepare for the end. We talked about some of the things we need to do better.”

The U18s have been off since capturing the title at the 2014 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament in Russia. The squad finished with a perfect 4-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record, with wins over Russia (5-2 on Feb. 4); Finland (8-3 on Feb. 6); Sweden (4-2 on Feb. 7); and the Czech Republic (3-2 on Feb. 8).

FACING THE PROSPECTS: The U.S. National Under-17 Team will play a single game this week when it heads to the Troy (Mich.) Sports Center for the North American Hockey League Top Prospects Tournament. The U17s will face the NAHL 18U Selects on at 6 p.m. EST on Tuesday.

“It will be good for our team to get some additional time, both in the weight room and on the ice this week,” head coach Don Granato said. “This team continues to work hard and improve each week. They are a fun group to coach.”

The U17s split a pair of home games last week, dropping a 9-8 shootout decision to the Chicago Steel on Friday before rebounding with a 6-5 overtime win over the Indiana Ice on Sunday.

Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) paced the offense with two goals against Chicago. Colin White (Hanover, Mass.), Charles McAvoy (Long Beach, N.Y.), Christian Evers (Waukee, Iowa), Grant Gabriele (Brighton, Mich.), Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass.) and Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill.) added single tallies. Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) and Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) combined for 19 saves.

Against Indiana, Fischer tallied a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, just 1:07 into the extra frame. Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.), Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Michael Floodstrand (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Kunin also had goals. Lackey stopped 26 shots to earn the win.

Notebook

  • Blake Pietila (Brighton, Mich./2009-11), a junior forward at Michigan Tech University, was selected as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Offensive Player of the Week on Feb. 11. Pietila had four goals and six points in a pair of wins over the University of Alabama-Huntsville on Feb. 7-8.
  • University of Notre Dame senior forward Bryan Rust (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./2008-10) earned Hockey East Player of the Week Honors on Feb 10. Rust tallied a pair of goals and added an assist in UND’s split with the University of Maine.
  • The U18s will bring a 27-13-1 (W-L-OTL) mark into this week’s action, including a 6-8 mark against college competition.
  • Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y./17-42) paces the U18s with 59 points. Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./25-28) ranks second with 53 points, while Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y./24-21) is third with 45 points. Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich./22-16), and Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y./8-30) are tied for fourth with 38 points each.
  • In goal for the U18s, Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) and Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.) split time between the pipes. Minney is 15-7-1 with a 2.68 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Weyrick is 7-4-0 with a 2.77 GAA and an .896 save percentage.
  • The U17s bring a 26-15-2 (W-L-OTL) overall mark into this week’s action.
  • The U17s are paced by Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y./13-46), who has tallied 59 points in 43 games. Colin White (30-27) ranks second with 57 points, while Luke Kirwan (Dewitt, N.Y./22-21) sits third with 43 points. Luke Kunin (18-14), Christian Fischer (14-18) and Auston Matthews (12-20) are in a three-way tie for fourth with 32 points.
  • In net for the U17s, Michael Lackey and Luke Opilka split duties. Lackey is 14-8-1 with a 3.19 GAA and an .874 save percentage. Meanwhile, Opilka is 12-7-1 with a 3.79 GAA and an .864 save percentage.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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