On the road again is the theme this week for the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams. The U18s head out for a pair of games while the U17s play a single United States Hockey League game in Iowa.
MICHIGAN SHOWDOWN AWAITS U18s: The U.S. National Under-18 Team travels across town to meet the University of Michigan on Thursday. Face-off is set for 7 p.m. EST at Yost Ice Arena. The teams last met on Jan. 4, 2013, when Team USA posted a 5-3 victory.
The squad will then head to Youngstown, Ohio, on Saturday to meet the Phantoms. The puck will drop at 7 p.m. at the Covelli Centre. Saturday’s game marks the third meeting of the season between U18s and Youngstown. The U18s won the first two meetings, 3-1 on Sept. 14 and 9-3 on Sept. 20.
“We are at the point where we are focused on improving specific aspects of our game,” said head coach Danton Cole, whose squad has won seven of its last eight games. “We will tweak a little bit. There shouldn’t be a big difference other than the way that U-M and Youngstown go about doing things. The way we want to mentally and physically prepare for a game won’t change. That is great preparation for us as we go into tournaments since you will play different types of teams and styles.”
The U18s swept a pair of NCAA Division III teams at home over the weekend, posting a 4-0 win over Nazareth on Saturday and a 5-0 victory over SUNY Fredonia on Sunday.
Against Nazareth, Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.), Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.), Ryan Collins (Bloomington, Minn.), and Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) registered goals to pace the offensive attack. Collin Olson (Apple Valley, Minn.) stopped all 13 shots to earn the shutout.
Shane Gersich (Chaska, Minn.) had a pair of goals against Fredonia State. Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.), Milano, and Tuch also added goals. Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) stopped 14 shots to earn his second career shutout.
“It’s always nice to win the college games, and the NCAA III games for us are pretty tough,” Cole said. “The teams are usually older and stronger. It’s good for us to face different kinds of battle. There were things we worked on such as tightening down defensively and getting shots on net. Sometimes when you are getting a lot of shots, you can get away from things defensively, but I didn’t think we did. It will be a good warm up for the Michigan game.”
BACK TO IOWA: The U.S. National Under-17 Team is in the middle of a six-game road trip as it heads back out on the road to Dubuque, Iowa, to face the Fighting Saints on Friday.
“We are in a difficult stretch right now,” head coach Don Granato said. “We need to work on some areas of our game before we head back out against another tough opponent in Dubuque.”
The U17s dropped three straight contests on the road last week, falling to Fargo 5-4 on Wednesday, to Sioux City 4-2 on Thursday and to Sioux Falls 10-4 on Saturday.
Against Fargo, Dennis Yan (Troy, Mich.) tallied a pair of goals while Charles McAvoy (Long Beach, N.Y.), and Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) were the other goal scorers. In net, Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) and Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) combined for 21 saves.
Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass.) and Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) potted the goals against Sioux City. Lackey finished with 34 stops in net.
Jordan Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y.), Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio), Brendan Warren (Carleton, Mich.), and White recorded the goals in the loss to Sioux City. Lackey and Opilka combined for 23 stops.
• Tickets for 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 just $1. Tickets can be purchased by calling the NTDP at (734) 327-9251.
• Team USA will see some familiar faces this week. The U17s will see Alexx Privitera (Old Tappan, N.J./2009-10) and Shane Eiserman (West Newbury, Mass./2012-13), who both skate for the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Meanwhile, the U18s will face six former NTDP players who now play for Michigan: Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich./2011-13), Kevin Clare (New Rochelle, N.Y./2008-10), J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill./2011-13), Andrew Copp (Ann Arbor, Mich./2011-12), Luke Moffat (Paradise Valley, Ariz./2008-10) and Tyler Motte (St. Clair, Mich./2011-13). Motte was selected the Big Ten Second Star on Nov. 26 after recording three points in a win over Niagara University.
• Former NTDP netminder Andy Iles (Ithaca, N.Y./2009-10/Cornell) was selected as the ECAC Goaltender of the Week on Nov. 26. Iles kicked out 55 of 57 shots in wins over Brown and Yale.
• Team USA is a combined 14-10-1 (W-L-OTL) in USHL play this season and is tied with Dubuque for the top spot in the USHL Eastern Conference standings.
• The U18s carry an overall record of 16-6-1 (W-L-OTL) into this weekend’s action. The squad is 3-3-0 against NCAA opponents.
• Sonny Milano continues to lead the U18s with 39 points (14-25) in 23 games. Jack Eichel (17-18) ranks second on the squad with 35 points, while Alex Tuch (15-15) is third with 30 points. Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y./4-19) and Dylan Larkin (14-8) round out the top five scorers with 23 and 22 points, respectively.
• In goal for the U18s, Edwin Minney holds a 9-4-1 record along with a 2.79 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage.
• The U17s carry a 13-9-0 (W-L-OTL) record into this week.
• Offensively, the U17s are paced by Jeremy Bracco, who has 31 points (8-23) in 22 games. Colin White (11-13) ranks second with 24 points, while Luke Kirwan (Dewitt, N.Y./11-9) sits third with 20 points. Noah Hanifin (4-14) is fourth with 18 points while Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo./9-8) and Jordan Greenway (7-10) are tied for fifth with 17 points.
• Michael Lackey and Luke Opilka continue to split time in net for the U17s. Lackey is 6-6-0 with a 3.46 GAA and an .879 save percentage. Meanwhile, Opilka is 7-3-0 with a 3.87 GAA and an .853 save percentage.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.