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Notebook (Feb. 24) - U18s Face Final College Opponent of Season

02/24/2014, 4:15pm EST
By Becky Olsen

Both the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams will be in action this week. The U17s will host a pair of United States Hockey League opponents, while the U18s hit the road again for a single contest.

FINAL COLLEGE GAME: The U.S. National Under-18 Team closes out its college schedule when it heads to Michigan State University on Saturday. Face-off is set for 7 p.m. EST at Munn Ice Arena.

The U18s are coming off a 2-1-0 (W-L-OTL) week in which they beat Bowling Green State University 6-1 on Friday and the Indiana Ice 4-1 on Saturday before falling 5-4 at Indiana on Sunday.

“We had three pretty good games last week; this team worked hard and battled through each game,” said head coach Danton Cole, whose squad holds a 7-8 mark against NCAA competition this season. “We will continue to work on the little things in practice this week as we get ready for this week’s game at State.”

Against Bowling Green, Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.) and Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) each scored one goal and added two assists in the win. Louie Belpedio (Skokie, Ill.), Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.), Shane Gersich (Chaska, Minn.), and Ryan Wagner (Park Ridge, Ill.) also tallied goals. Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.) stopped 23 shots to earn the win.

Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) kicked out 34 of 35 shots in the win over Indiana. Bjork, Tuch, Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.), and Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) registered goals.

In the loss to Indiana, Eichel paced the offense with a pair of goals, while Tuch and Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) added single tallies. Weyrick stopped one shot before Minney closed out the game with 18 stops.

The Michigan State game is filled with National Team Development Program connections. Cole was a four-year letter winner at MSU (1985-89) and was part of the squad that captured the 1986 NCAA Division I championship.

The Spartans’ roster features former NTDP netminder Will Yanakeff (Jerome, Mich./2008-09). Meanwhile, two current U18 players have committed to play at MSU. They are goalie Minney and forward Dylan Pavelek (Marysville, Mich.).

HOME SWEET HOME: The U.S. National Under-17 Team returns to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube to host the Dubuque Fighting Saints at 7 p.m. on Saturday and again at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday in USHL action.

The U17s are coming off a 5-1 win over the North American Hockey League 18U Selects on Feb. 18. Dennis Yan (Troy, Mich.) tallied a pair of goals, while Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) kicked out 14 of 15 shots in the game. Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass.), Caleb Jones (Frisco, Texas) and Luke Kirwan (Dewitt, N.Y.) also tallied goals in the win.

“We had a great team effort on Tuesday night; the players really responded on the ice,” head coach Don Granato said. “We have had a challenging schedule this year so it was great for our players to be able to go home for a few days last week, and hopefully they will come back refreshed and ready to face another challenge against one of the top teams in the USHL.”

Notebook

  • Tickets for Team USA home games are $7 for adults and $5 for children, seniors and active military members. Youth hockey players wearing their team jerseys are admitted for $1. Tickets can be purchased by calling the NTDP at (734) 327-9251.
  • Former NTDP and current Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (Madison, Wis./2003-05) was named the best forward of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Kessel tied for the Olympic points title with eight, including an Olympic-best five goals.
  • U17 forward Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) sits third on the NTDP’s single-season assists list with 47. Andy Hilbert (Howell, Mich./1998-99) and Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y./2005-06) hold the single-season mark with 50. U18 forward Sonny Milano also makes the list and is tied for seventh with 44 assists.
  • Milano is also adding to a personal NTDP milestone, this one in career assists. He recently passed Ryan Kesler (Livonia, Mich./2000-02) for sixth place with 71 helpers over two seasons. Kesler collected 69 assists total.
  • Former NTDP players Shane Eiserman (West Newbury, Mass./2012-13) and Alexx Privitera (Old Tappan, N.J./2009-10) play for Dubuque.
  • The University of North Dakota’s Nick Mattson (Chanhassen, Minn./2007-09) was selected as the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s Defenseman of the Week for the week of Feb. 10-16. Mattson registered two goals and three points in UND’s two-game sweep of Miami University.
  • The University of Minnesota’s Hudson Fasching (Burnsville, Minn./2011-13) earned Big Ten Conference Second Star honors on Feb. 17. Fasching picked up two goals and an assist in Minnesota’s two-game sweep of the University of Michigan.
  • Former NTDP and current Cornell University goaltender Andy Iles (Ithaca, N.Y./2009-10) is one of 10 finalists for Lowe’s Senior Class Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
  • The U17s bring a 27-15-2 (W-L-OTL) overall mark into this weekend’s action. The squad has posted a perfect 15-0 record in international play and now focuses exclusively on USHL action.
  • Jeremy Bracco (13-47) paces the U17s with 60 points. Colin White (Hanover, Mass./30-28) ranks second with 58 points, while Luke Kirwan (23-21) sits third with 44 points. Rounding out the top five are Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill./14-19), who is fourth with 33 points and Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo./18-14), who is fifth with 32 points.
  • In net for the U17s, Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) and Luke Opilka split duties. Lackey is 14-8-1 with a 3.19 goals-against average and an .874 save percentage. Meanwhile, Opilka is 13-7-1 with a 3.65 GAA and an .866 save percentage.
  • The U18s carry a 29-15-1 (W-L-OTL) mark into this week’s action.
  • The U18s are paced by Sonny Milano (18-44) with 61 points. Jack Eichel (28-32) ranks second with 60 points, while Alex Tuch (27-21) is third with 48 points. Dylan Larkin (23-19) is fourth with 42 points, and Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y./8-31) sits fifth with 39 points.
  • Edwin Minney and Blake Weyrick split time between the pipes for the U18s. Minney is 15-8-1 with a 2.64 GAA and a .906 save percentage. Weyrick is 9-4-0 with a 2.78 GAA and an .893 save percentage.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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