FIVE NATIONS CHAMPS: LJ Mooney (West Mifflin, Pa.) scored 4:08 into overtime as the U.S. National Under-17 Team scored four unanswered goals on the way to a 5-4 comeback win over Czechia to win the 2024 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Kravare, Czechia on Sunday morning.

The U.S. fell to Sweden (6-3) but earned come-from-behind victories against Finland (8-4), Switzerland (3-2) and host Czechia (5-4) on their way to their first international tournament championship as an age group.

Mooney led the offensive charge for Team USA, collecting a team-high four goals in the tournament, including a hat-trick in the win over Finland.

Cole McKinney (Lake Forest, Ill.) led the squad with nine points over the four games, as he collected a pair of scores and a whopping seven assists, while racking up a trio of three-point efforts over the week.

The international event was the final for the U17s this year after they took second place in the 2023 World U17 Challenge in November in Charlottetown and Summerside, Prince Edward Island. In lieu of the traditional Four Nations in December, the U17s played a European tour of U20 squads, winning all four contests. The team finishes the 2023-24 campaign with a fantastic 11-1-2-1 (W-L-OTL-SOL) record against international competition.

SOLVING SWEDEN: Both the Under-17 and Under-18 Teams went 3-1-0 in their international tournaments, with both losses coming to the Swedes.

The Team USA vs. Sweden rivalry has quickly become one of hockey's best on the international docket over the last three years. Sweden topped Team USA in the 2022 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship gold-medal game, 6-4, before the U.S. reversed the curse to take last year's gold by a 3-2 final in OT, courtesy of Ryan Leonard's game-winning goal for the red, white and blue.

Team Sweden got the best of the U18s in both matchups this year, taking the November Four Nations matchup by a 7-6 overtime tally before coming from behind in the waning seconds to strip Team USA of a Five Nations championship on home ice.

The Under-17 Team took down Sweden, 5-2, in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge earlier this year, before falling to them at the Five Nations last week.

At the U20 level,  Team USA dispatched Sweden by a 6-2 final in the final game of the 2024 World Junior Championship to claim the sixth gold medal in tournament history for the Americans. In the 2023 iteration of the tournament, Team USA won a frantic bronze-medal game over the Swedes, 8-7, after Chaz Lucius capped his hat-trick with the overtime winner.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Under-18 Team USA captain Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) had a tournament to remember, leading all skaters with six goals scored in four games. The University of Minnesota commit added a pair of assists for eight total points, second only to linemate Teddy Stiga (Sudbury, Mass.), who amassed nine points (3g-6a) over the week.

Ziemer recorded multiple points in three of four games of the Five Nations and potted the game-winning goals in the team's first pair of games, wins over Switzerland and Finland.

In the tournament finale, Ziemer used a great individual effort to get Team USA on the board first, less than five minutes into the game. He also restored the U.S. lead late in the second period, finishing off a nice passing sequence with a rip from the slot.

With the impresssive tournament, Ziemer is now over a point-per-game throughout the season, having recorded 42 points (20g-22a) in 41 games played, good for fifth-most points on the Under-18 Team. His 20 goals sits third on the team, behind only Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) and Stiga.

REWRITING THE BOOKS: U18 defenseman Cole Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) led all defensemen in scoring during the Five Nations at USA Hockey Arena, as he collected two goals and six helpers for eight total points.

The Boston University commit racked up assists on the first four USA goals in the team's 5-2 win over Switzerland, en route to being named the Player of the Game.

With his goal scored against Czechia, the eventual game-winner, Hutson moved past Cam York for most points by a two-year defenseman in NTDP history. York set the mark at 103 points during his tenure with Team USA from 2017-19. Hutson finished the tournament with 105 points as a minimum 18 games remain on the U18 schedule.

Up next for Hutson is the all-time mark of 111 points for a defenseman, set in three seasons by JD Forrest (1997-2000). Hutson also has 84 career assists, and with five more on the year, can join teammate James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) in the NTDP's top-10 all-time assist leaders. 

The U18s are off this week before returning to play the Lincoln Stars next Friday, Jan. 23, at USA Hockey Arena.