In 1996, USA Hockey launched a revolutionary new initiative called the National Team Development Program, based in Ann Arbor, Mich. In its 16th season of play in 2012-13, the goal of this full-time development program is to prepare student-athletes under the age of 18 for participation on U.S. National Teams and success in their future hockey careers. Its efforts focus not only on high-caliber participation on the ice, but creating well-rounded individuals off the ice.
The program is composed of two squads - the U.S. National Under-18 and Under-17 Teams. The Under-17 Team competes in the United States Hockey League and also participates in three international events annually. The U.S. National Under-18 Team’s schedule includes games against NCAA Division I and III opponents, contests vs. USHL teams, as well as competition in three international tournaments.
The Ann Arbor Ice Cube, a first-class facility consisting of three ice sheets, locker rooms, offices, a training area and weight room is home to the NTDP. Unlike other competitive athletic teams, the success of the NTDP is not gauged on wins and losses. Instead, the focus is on the development of skills and acquiring experience against older competitors.
“Playing for your country is one of the greatest things any athlete can do,” said National Hockey League superstar Ryan Kesler. “The NTDP’s on- and off-ice programs built the foundation I needed to become the player I am today.”