The Force will be strong at USA Hockey Arena on Saturday night.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team will kick off their home weekend Saturday with a Star Wars Night matchup against the Tri-City Storm at 7 p.m. ET. Sunday, they play host to the Sioux Falls Stampede for a 2 p.m. ET matinee.
The two home games this weekend will concluded a four-game USHL homestand.
The U17s are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Bloomington Thunder on Saturday afternoon. Earlier that week, the U17s fell to the Muskegon Lumberjacks, 3-0.
The U.S. National Under-18 Team splits their USHL games this weekend. They play host to the Tri-City Storm at 7 p.m. ET Friday at USA Hockey Arena on Teacher Appreciation Night. The U18s talked about their favorite classes and teachers this week in advance of this event (see below).
The U18s conclude the weekend with a 5 p.m. ET matchup with the Bloomington Thunder at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
The U18s are coming off a road trip last weekend. They followed up a 6-3 loss to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders last Friday (Jan. 20) evening with a 5-2 victory against the USHL's top-ranked Chicago Steel on Saturday (Jan. 21). Evan Barratt (Bristol, Pa.) recorded three goals on the weekend while Adam Scheel (Lakewood, Ohio) picked up his second USHL victory of the season with 26 saves on 28 shots.
STORM IN THE FORECAST: Both the U17s and U18s open their weekend at home against the Tri-City Storm, who currently sit at 13-16-4-2 on the season. This will be the U17s first matchup against the Storm this season. The U18s opened the 2016-17 season with a 3-2 loss on Sept. 9 at Ralston Arena as part of the USHL's Fall Classic West.
Storm forward Linus Weissbach leads the Storm offense this season. He has posted 31 points (9-22-31) in 34 games for Tri-City.
Dayton Rasmussen has led the way in net, earning 11 wins in 25 appearances and posting a 2.36 goals-against average and .915 save-percentage.
STOPPING THE STAMPEDE: The U17s welcome Sioux Falls Stampede to USA Hockey Arena for a 2 p.m. ET matinee game. The Stampede have earned 33 points in the USHL with a record of 15-16-1-2.
The U17s last meeting (Nov. 27) with the Stampede resulted in a 6-1 loss at Denny Stanford Premier Center .
The Stampede have a balanced offensive attack with Austin Albrecht leading the way in points with 31 (5-26-31) in 32 games. Jason O’Neill (16-10-26) and Josh Passolt (9-14-23) have helped lead the offense.
Mikhail Berdin and Jeremy Swayman have split time in net this season, with Berdin leading the way in wins (10).
BRING ON THE THUNDER: The U18s travel to U.S. Cellular Coliseum to take on the Bloomington Thunder at 4 p.m. ET Sunday. The Thunder currently stand two spots ahead of Team USA in the USHL standings with 38 points and a 17-13-3-1 record.
The U18s won their last meeting against the Thunder at USA Hockey Arena 4-1 on Saturday (Dec. 10). Team USA's victory was fueled by goals from Josh Norris (Oxford, Mich.), David Farrance (Victor, N.Y.), Sean Dhooghe (Aurora, Ill.) and Barratt. Dylan St. Cyr (Northville, Mich.) made 28 saves out on 29 shots to pick up the victory.
Vladislav Dzhishvili leads the Thunder in scoring with 25 points (11-14-25) in 33 games this season. The Thunder have also had scoring help from their blue line in the form of Wyatt Kalynuk, who has posted 21 points (4-17-21) and a +7 plus/minus rating in 34 games this season.
HUTSKO DEPARTS FROM NTDP: U18 forward Logan Hutsko (Morristown, N.J.) has returned home to rehab a season-ending injury he suffered earlier this year. He will attend Boston College next year where he will play for the Eagles. Hutsko finished his NTDP career with 18 points (7-11-18) in 40 games played.
ST. CYR COMMITS TO NOTRE DAME: U18s goaltender Dylan St. Cyr (Northville, Mich.) committed to play college hockey at the University of Notre Dame on Wednesday afternoon.
FIVE NATIONS TOURNAMENTS UP NEXT: Following this weekend's USHL matchups, both teams will compete in Five Nations Tournaments.
The U17s will travel to Brno, Czech Republic, for matchups with Sweden (Feb. 8), Russia (Feb. 9), Finland (Feb. 11) and the Czech Republic (Feb. 12).
The U18s travel to Sundsvall, Sweden, for matchups with Finland (Feb. 8), the Czech Republic (Feb. 10), Russia (Feb. 11) and Sweden (Feb. 12). The U18s captured the 2016 Under-18 Five Nations title in November at USA Hockey Arena.
AHL ALL-STARS: Five NTDP alumni will be playing in the American Hockey League (AHL) All-Star Classic this weekend in Lehigh Valley, home of the Philadelphia Flyers affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Travis Boyd (2009-11/Hershey Bears), Jack Roslovic (2013-15/Manitoba Moose), Robbie Russo (2009-11/Grand Rapids Griffins) and David Warsofsky (2007-08/Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins) will take part in the two-day event.
TEAM USA IN USHL: Team USA is currently a combined 13-18-1-1 (W-L-OTL-SOL) in the USHL's Eastern Conference.
U18s RECORD: The U18s carry a 20-17-2 (W-L-OTL) overall mark into this week.
U18s OFFENSE: Barratt (12-20) paces the U18s with 32 points. Josh Norris (Oxford, Mich.) (13-18) is second on the team with 31 points in 36 games. Brady Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) (12-18) and Jacob Tortora (Victor, N.Y.) (15-15) are tied for third on the team with 30 points. Tortora and Grant Mismash (Edina, Minn.) lead the U18s in goals with 15 each.
U18s GOALTENDING: In goal for the U18s, St. Cyr and Scheel have split time. St. Cyr is 16-10-0 with a 2.85 goals-against average and an .896 save percentage. Scheel is 4-9-1 with a 4.04 GAA and an .867 save percentage.
U17s RECORD: The U17s carry a 13-20-2 (W-L-OTL) overall mark into this week.
U17s OFFENSE: Joel Farabee (Victor, N.Y.) (16-11) paces the U17s with 27 points. Oliver Wahlstrom (Quincy, Mass.) (11-9) and Jake Wise (North Andover, Mass.) are tied for second on the team is second with 20 points each. Tyler Weiss (Raleigh, N.C.) (6-13) sits fourth in scoring with 19 points in 35 games.