LAST TIME OUT: Team USA went a perfect 4-for-4 in outings last weekend. The U18s continued the 2020-21 Kroger College Series against Air Force, defeating the Falcons, 5-4, in a shootout Saturday before skating to a 3-1 victory on Sunday. The U17s won their pair of home games against the Janesville Jets of the NAHL, winning, 5-4, last Friday and 9-3 on Saturday to sweep the series.
Frank Nazar III (Mount Clemens, Mich.) notched four goals for the U17s over the weekend, and Justin Janicke (Maple Grove, Minn.) had a pair of tallies in the U18s' wins over Air Force.
ON THE BOARD: U18 defenseman Ty Gallagher (Clarkston, Mich.) potted his first goal of the season in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Air Force. The University of Notre Dame commit led all U17 blueliners during the 2019-20 campaign with 11 goals and can help elevate an offense that is already averaging nearly five goals per game.
HOME COOKING: Goaltender Kaidan Mbereko (Aspen, Colo.) returned to his home state where he impressed against the Air Force Falcons this weekend. Mbereko turned aside 26 of the 27 shots he faced as he picked up his third win of the season. The 5-foot-11 goaltender now has a 2.57 goals-against average and .901 save percentage, both of which lead all NTDP netminders.
JUSTIN IS GELLIN': Forward Justin Janicke (Maple Grove, Minn.) recorded two goals and an assist in this weekend’s pair of wins in Colorado. With those points, Janicke broke a nine-game scoreless drought dating back to October 3. The Notre Dame commit started the season with back-to-back three-point efforts in St. Cloud and now has nine points in 13 games played.
BACK ON THE MENU: Forward Sasha Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla.) made his return to the Under-18 Team lineup Sunday afternoon after being held out of the lineup since late October. Pastujov leads the U18s in points-per-game, averaging 1.40 on the season, and is second on the team in overall points with 14. Pastujov recorded 50 points for the U17s last season to lead the team.
BE LIKE IKE: Isaac Howard (Hudson, Wis.) leads the U17s in scoring with 14 goals, 15 assists and 29 points in 14 contests, averaging more than two points a game. Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) is averaging over a point-and-a-half a game, with nine goals, 13 assists and 22 points.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The U17s tallied three goals on the power play last weekend. With 13 power-play goals this season, the U17s power play efficiency sits at 41.2 percent. In addition, the U17s penalty killing has been superb this season as the team is killing over 80 percent of the penalties it faces.
DEFENSIVE DUO: U17 defensemen Lane Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) and Charlie Leddy (Fairfield, Conn.) have been stellar on both sides of the ice this season, denying goals in the defensive end and contributing to goals in the offensive zone. The pair lead the U17s in plus/minus with a +11 rating through 14 games.
SUPER IN THE SECOND: The U17s continue to produce stellar scoring stats in the second periods of their games, outscoring opponents 41-10 in the frame throughout their first 14 contests of the season. The U17s also outscore opponents, 31-20 and 24-11 in the second and third periods, respectively. The U17s are a perfect 9-0-0-0 when outscoring their opponents in the middle frame.
TERRIFIC 23: Twenty members of the 2020-21 U.S. National Under-18 Team and three former NTDP players were named to the National Hockey League Central Scouting's first rankings ahead of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. All 20 age-eligible U18 skaters for the draft were rated on the opening list.
STAFF NOD: NTDP athletic trainer Jason Hodges (New Baltimore, Mich.) was named to the same position on the Team USA staff at the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. Hodges is in his 23rd season working with the NTDP and will represent Team USA for the sixth time in his career at this tournament. He has been a part of two gold-medal winning teams (2013, 2017) and picked up a bronze medal at the tournament in in 2011. Hodges has also served on the staff of five gold-medal winning USA squads at the IIHF U18 Men's World Championship.
2021 IIHF WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP: Fifteen NTDP alumni were named to the 25-player roster for the 2021 U.S. National Junior Team that will represent the United States in the 2021 World Junior Championship set for Edmonton, Alberta, from Dec. 25, 2020 – Jan. 5, 2021.