Photo by Rena Laverty
USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program starts the 2017-18 season with a pair of preseason matchups against the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) at USA Hockey Arena on Friday (U17s; Sep. 15) and Saturday (U18s; Sep. 16) at 7 p.m ET.
WHIPPING THE WILDERNESS: The Wilderness finished second in the NAHL’s central division and ninth in the overall standings last season with a record of 32-22-4-2.. Chase Thudium led the way for the Wilderness with 70 points (27-43-70) followed closely by George Mika with 69 points (30-39-69), Nick Bruce with 67 points (27-40-67) and Caleb Schroer with 67 points (26-41-67). Ryan Solomon led the team in the plus-minus department with a +39 rating. Luke Kania spent most of the time between the pipes while splitting time with Trevor Micucci. Kania’s record for the 2016-17 season was 17-14-2-1 in 37 games played with a goals-against-average of 2.84 and save percentage of .914. Micucci’s 2016-17 record was 15-7-2-1 in 29 games between the pipes with a 2.56 goals-against-average and .928 save-percentage.
The 23-player U.S. Under-17 National Team will play in its first game together on Friday evening.
For the U18s, Joel Farabee (Cicero, N.Y.) returns as the scoring leader as he racked up team highs in goals (17) and points (31) during the 2016-17 season. Tyler Weiss (Raleigh, N.C.) led the team with 21 assists last season. Newcomers Drew DeRidder (Fenton, Mich.) and Jonanthan Mor (Highland Park, Ill.) will split time between the pipes for the U18s this season.
BOSTON STRONG: Twenty-one of 23 players on the U.S. Under-17 National Team are verbally committed play college hockey. Over half the team (13 players) plan on playing their college hockey in Boston. Boston College boasts seven commits from this 2001 birth year while Boston University and Harvard University each have three. Other college commitments include the University of Wisconsin (2), University of Michigan (1), Ohio State University (1), University of Nebraska-Omaha (1), Quinnipiac University (1), University of North Dakota (1), University of Notre Dame (1).
MEET THE COACHES: Seth Appert (Cottage Grove, Minn.) is the latest head coach for the National Team Development Program. He served the previous 11 years as head coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Appert developed 13 All-Americans and four Hobey Baker finalists during his time at RPI. He will serve as the head coach of the U.S. National Under-18 Team in 2017-18.
A player on the inaugural roster of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in 1997, John Wroblewski (Neenah, Wis.) returned to the NTDP to serve as a head coach last season (2016-17) and will guide the U.S. National Under-17 Team in 2017-18. In his first season, he led the NTDP Under-18 Team to a 43-20-3 record, which ended with a 13-game winning streak. From the New Year on, the U18's had a 27-3 (.900) record, which was the best second-half winning percentage of any team in NTDP history.
This summer, Nick Fohr (Grand Forks, N.D.) was elevated to associate coach as he returns for his seventh season with the NTDP, coaching alongside Appert with the U18s.
Greg Moore (Lisbon, ME) has been added to the coaching staff as the assistant coach of the U.S. Under-17 National Team under head coach, John Wroblewski after joining the staff in 2015 as an intern coach. Moore was in the NTDP program as a player from 2000 to 2002.
Intern assistants for the 2017-18 season will be Kevin Lind (Homer Glen, Ill/) entering his first season helping with the U17’s and Mason Graddock (South Bend, Ind.) entering his second season coaching with the U18’s.
Kevin Reiter (Pittsburgh, Pa) was recently named the director of player personnel for the National Team Development Program. Reiter was the NTDP’s goaltending coach for the last four seasons while on the coaching staff at four International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Men’s World Championships, helping guide Team USA to goal medals in 2014, 2015 and 2017 and a bronze medal in 2016.
SAYING GOODBYE: Former NTDP coach, Danton Cole (Lansing, Mich.) moves to his old stomping ground of Michigan State University and trades in the red, white and blue of the United States for the green and white as he takes on the new head coach position. Cole is a former Spartan (1985-89) who won a national title in 1985 with MSU while posting a career 69 goals and 163 points in 180 career games. Cole coached Team USA to gold-medal finishes in both 2012 and 2014 at the IIHF U18 World Championship while guiding the 2016 squad to a bronze medal. Former NTDP Assistant Coach, Chris Luongo (Fraser, Mich.) also joined the MSU coaching staff as an assistant coach.
ALL-AMERICAN PROSPECTS GAME: Seventeen NTDP players were selected for the 2017 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects game which will be taking place Thursday, September 21 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y. Current U18s goalies, Drew DeRidder (Fenton, Mich.) and Jonathan Mor (Highland Park, Ill.) were among the four goalies invited. Ty Emberson (Eau Claire, Wis.), K’Andre Miller (Hopkins, Minn.) Adam Samuelsson(Carlsbad, Calif.), Mattias Samuelsson (Voorhees, N.J.), Spencer Stastney (Mequon, Wis.), Bode Wilde (Birmingham, Mich.), and NTDP alum Quinn Hughes (2015-17/Orlando, Fla.) were among the 14 defensemen invited. Of the 24 forwards invited to the game eight of them have NTDP ties including: Joel Farabee(Cicero, N.Y.), John Gruden (Rochester, Mich.), Gavin Hain (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Jake Pivonka (Woodridge, Ill.), Oliver Wahlstrom (Quincy, Mass.), Tyler Weiss (Raleigh, N.C.), Jake Wise (North Andover, Mass.) and NTDP alum Brady Tkachuk (2015-17/St. Louis, Mo.).
2017 NHL ENTRY DRAFT: A total of 12 USA Hockey National Team Development Program alumni were selected at the United Center. Josh Norris (2015-17/Oxford, Mich.) first round, 19th overall by the San Jose Sharks. Jake Oettinger (2014-16/Lakeville, Minn.) first round by the Dallas Stars with the 26th overall pick. (2014-16/St. Louis, Mo.) was selected in the second round by the Carolina Hurricanes while Luke Martin University of Michigan defenseman University of North Dakota forward, Grant Mismash (2015-17/Edina, Minn.), was selected by the Nashville Predators in the second round. Max Gildon (2015-17/Plano, Texas) was selected in the third round by the Florida Panthers. Evan Barratt (2015-17/Bristol, Pa.) was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks. David Farrance (2015-17/Victor, N.Y.) was selected by the Nashville Predators. Five players were selected in the final four rounds including Scott Reedy (2015-17/Prior Lake, Minn./San Jose Sharks), Tyler Inamoto (2015-17/Barrington, Ill./Florida Panthers), Logan Cockerill (2015-17/Brighton, Mich./New York Islanders), Phil Kemp (2015-17/Greenwich, Conn./Edmonton Oilers) and Matthew Hellickson (2014-16/Rogers, Minn./New Jersey Devils).