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Notebook (March 3) - Four Games Versus Cedar Rapids to Test U18s

03/03/2014, 1:45pm EST
By Becky Olsen

There are only two games on tap this week for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program squads, and both are for the U.S. National Under-18 Team. The U18s will play two United States Hockey League games, while the U17s enjoy a bye week.

BACK HOME: The U.S. National Under-18 Team returns to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube for a pair of USHL contests this weekend when it hosts the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders on Friday and Saturday. The puck drops at 7 p.m. EST both nights.

“Cedar Rapids is a good team,” head coach Danton Cole said. “We play two at home with them this weekend and then we go out there for two the following weekend. We are looking at the next two weeks as a playoff-series test for us. It will be how we set up, work on making adjustments and playing our game.”

Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) scored a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, to help propel the U18s to a 4-3 win at Michigan State University on Saturday. Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) and Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) also tallied goals. Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) earned the win, finishing with 20 saves.

“After our struggles last year in the USHL where we couldn’t get over the hump and win, we really wanted to do better in the USHL this season and put ourselves in a position where we could get wins against college opponents,” said Cole, whose squad finished with an 8-8 mark against NCAA competition this season.

BYE WEEK: After splitting a pair of USHL contests last week, the U.S. National Under-17 Team will take a break from game action this week. The U17s dropped a 5-3 decision to Dubuque on Saturday before rebounding with a 5-2 victory on Sunday.

In game one, Luke Kirwan (DeWitt, N.Y.), Jordan Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y.) and Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) registered goals. Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) earned the start in goal, stopping 30 shots.

Kirwan registered a pair of goals in the game two win while White, Greenway and Grant Gabriele (Brighton, Mich.) added single tallies. Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) kicked out 23 of 25 shots to earn the win.

“We battled all weekend and it was great to see the team get rewarded for our efforts with a win on Sunday,” head coach Don Granato said. “It will be good to have time for practice and time in the weight room this week as we get prepared for six straight road games.”

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 University of Wisconsin forward Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill./2008-10) was selected as the Big Ten First Star of the Week on Feb. 24. Mersch tallied three goals and four points in the Badgers two-game sweep of Michigan State.
  • Jack Eichel was selected as the USHL CCM Forward of the Week for the week of Feb. 17-23. He earned the honor after recording three goals and six points in a split with Indiana. Eichel is 11th on the NTDP’s career goals chart with 59, one behind Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, Calif./2009-11) for 10th all-time.
  • Sonny Milano sits sixth on the NTDP’s career assist chart with 73 helpers. Milano needs four more to pass Rocco Grimaldi and Phil Kessel (Madison, Wis./2003-05), who are tied for fourth with 76.
  • With four assists on the weekend, Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) broke the NTDP’s single-season assist record. Bracco’s 51 assists surpass Andy Hilbert (Howell, Mich./1998-99) and Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y./2005-06), who previously held the single-season mark with 50.
  • The U18s carry a 30-14-1 (W-L-OTL) mark into this week’s action.
  • Sonny Milano (19-46) continues to pace the U18s with 65 points in 43 games. Jack Eichel (30-33) is second with 63 points, while Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y./27-23) is third with 50 points. Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich./23-20) is fourth with 43 points, and Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y./8-30) sits fifth with 38 points.
  • Edwin Minney and Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.) split time between the pipes for the U18s. Minney is 17-8-1 with a 2.65 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Weyrick is 8-4-0 with a 2.78 GAA and an .895 save percentage.
  • The U17s bring a 28-16-2 (W-L-OTL) overall record into this weekend’s action.
  • The U17s are paced by Jeremy Bracco (13-51), who has 64 points. Colin White (32-31) is second with 63 points, while Luke Kirwan (26-21) sits third with 47 points. Three players — Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo./18-15), Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill./14-19) and Jordan Greenway (14-19) — are tied for fourth with 33 points.
  • In net for the U17s, Michael Lackey and Luke Opilka split duties. Lackey is 14-98-1 with a 3.22 GAA and an .874 save percentage. Meanwhile, Opilka is 14-7-1 with a 3.57 GAA and an .869 save percentage.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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