HERE COME THE PLAYOFFS: Team USA hasn’t hosted a playoff game at USA Hockey Arena since the 2018 playoffs which was the same year the team last won a playoff game. The U.S. appeared in the 2019 playoffs and faced-off against this year’s opponent in the RoughRiders for the first time in the postseason inside the arena formally known as Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Made up of now NHLers like Brock Faber (Minnesota Wild), Jake Sanderson (Ottawa Senators), Thomas Bordeleau (San Jose Sharks) and most of the 2002 birth-year class, the team dropped both games to Cedar Rapids to fail to make the second round. The opening game (April 15, 2019) Team USA fell, 6-3, followed by a 7-2 loss the following night (April 16, 2019).

Team USA’s last playoff win, along with their last win inside USA Hockey Arena. dates to May 2, 2018, in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Youngstown Phantoms. The U.S. went on to win, 10-6, in the highest scoring USHL playoff game since at least the 2003 playoffs, as now NHLer Matt Boldy (Minnesota Wild) scored the 7th goal and the game winner in the second period. It was Team USA’s only win against the Phantoms who went on to take the best-of-five series, 3-1, and eventually fell to the Fargo Force in the Clark Cup Championship.

Overall, Team USA is 4-9-1-0 in the postseason with a -19 goal differential, having scored 44 goals. In four playoff games inside USA Hockey Arena, Team USA holds a 2-1-1 (W-L-OTL) record.

All four wins came during the team’s 2018 run and is winless besides that. Along with 2018, Team USA hosted once more while still located at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube where they fell in a best-of-three series to Muskegon.

The USHL's Clark Cup Playoffs will feature 12 teams, six from each of the Eastern and Western Conferences, beginning on Monday, April 24. The opening round will begin with a three-game first round series between the #3 and #6 seeds and #4 and #5 seeds. All three games will be played at the higher seed's home location on three consecutive nights.

RECORDS ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN: An exciting five-point (3g-2a) night for Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) wasn’t just special because of a hat trick at the 2023 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship, what made it special was Perreault passed Auston Matthews (2013-15) in the U.S. NTDP record book for most points in a single season.

Tied with Jack Hughes (2017-19) at 116 heading into the second game of the tournament, sights were put on setting the record early which is exactly what the forward did. A goal in the opening five minutes put Perreault t-1st with Matthews who tallied 117 (55g-62a) his U18 year. Nearly 10 minutes later, and still in the first period, Perreault dished a pass to linemate Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) to break the record with games to go.

Perreault didn’t stop there as he netted a hat trick in 40 minutes and finished the game with five points, was named U.S. Player of the Game, helped Team USA improve to 2-0-0-0 with a 12-1 win over Norway (April 22) and put him four points ahead of Matthews. A four-point night the following night (April 23) now puts Perreault at 125 points (52g-73a) with at least two more games to go.

Following behind Perreault is Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) who passed Hughes and Matthews on the list and is now alone at two behind linemate Perreault with 118 points (46g-72a). Both Perreault and Smith rank in the top-five in most assists in a single season with Hughes holding the record at 78 his U18 season. Both forwards are charging up the all-time points list as Smith is two away from Clayton Keller (2014-16) who is ranked second at 189 and Perreault is fourth with his 182.

Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) reached the 100-point milestone (66g-34a) while in Switzerland for U18 Worlds and is vying for the most goals in a single season, set by Cole Caufield (2017-19) his U18 season with 72. Cole Hutson (Barrington, Ill.), another 2006 birth-year, has his eyes on Cam York’s (2017-19) record of single season points by a defenseman with 65, as Hutson is four away from tying the record with his 61 (9g-52a).

NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING: Nineteen members of the 2022-23 U.S. National Under-18 Team and three NTDP alums were named to the National Hockey League Central Scouting's Final Rankings ahead of the 2023 NHL Draft, set to take place June 28-29 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn..

Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) was the highest-rated NTDP player and maintained his third overall ranking from the mid-season report from January. Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) sits in the fifth overall spot, while Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn.) is eighth overall and Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) rounds out the top-10 in the 10 slot. Forward Danny Nelson (Maple Grove, Minn.) ranks in the top-32, indicating a possible first-round selection in the draft, at 22nd overall.

Five defenseman made the list, along with seven more forwards. In between the pipes, Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) finished at third on the rankings while Carsen Musser (Sherburn, Minn.) sits eighth.

IIHF UNDER-18 MEN'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: The U.S. National Under-18 Team is well underway at the IIHF U18 Men’s World Championship in Basel, Switzerland. Team USA has fared well to date with three games under their belt and three wins to top Group B with one game left to play.

Team USA opened play Thursday (April 20) with a 7-1 win over Latvia before a day off. After their day off, the U.S. was prepared for back-to-back games Saturday (April 22) and Sunday (April 23) as they took care of business Saturday against Norway (W, 12-1) followed by an 8-4 win over Finland who was previously tied with the U.S. for the Group B lead with six points.

Four Americans lead the leaderboard on the statistics side as Gabe Perreault and Will Smith are tied at one with 11 points, both with four goals and seven assists apiece. Ryan Leonard follows suit at third with eight points (3g-5a), followed by Cole Eiserman who is t-4th (6g-1a). Eiserman leads the tournament with his six goals, as Perreault and Smith follow with their four. Cole Hutson is the leading defenseman in the assist category with five, and t-3rd in the tournament alongside Leonard, while Smith and Perreault are placed first with their seven each.