LAST TIME OUT: The U18s went two for three in the final week of play before the holiday break, skating to a 9-3 victory over the Muskegon Lumberjacks, before splitting a series with the Dubuque Fighting Saints at USA Hockey Arena. The U18s defeated the Saints, 4-1, thanks to a Sasha Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla.) hat trick, but dropped a back-and-forth second contest, 6-5.
The U17s return to the ice after sweeping a Dec. 11-12 series against the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
PASTA POWER: U18 forward Sasha Pastujov netted his team-leading third power-play goal of the season in the U18s’ last game against Dubuque to help increase the team’s power-play conversion rate to 24.6% on the season. Overall, the 6-foot-0 forward has 14 goals in 13 games played for the Under-18 Team and leads the team with 21 points on the year.
NINE IS FINE: The U18s used nine different goal scorers in Wednesday’s (Dec. 19) 9-3 win over the Youngstown Phantoms, a season-high for goal scorers in a game. Red Savage (Scottsdale, Ariz.) led the way with three points while Jack Hughes (Westwood, Mass.), Sasha Pastujov, Jeremy Wilmer (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), Ty Gallagher (Clarkston, Mich.) and Dylan Duke (Strongsville, Ohio) all pitched in a goal and an assist. Ryan St. Louis (Riverside, Conn.) added goals in both games against Dubuque for 10 separate U18 scorers over the week.
WEEKLY HONORS: Two Under-18 skaters were named Players of the Week by the USHL for their performances in Week 7 of the season. Sasha Pastujov was named the league’s Forward of the Week as he racked up six goals and an assist over three games, including his first career NTDP hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Dubuque. Luke Hughes (Canton, Mich.) was named the USHL Defenseman of the Week after he recorded a goal and four helpers, including his first three-point output for Team USA.
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 tallies a game. Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) is averaging over a point-and-a-half a game, with nine goals, 13 assists and 22 points.
BOSS FROM BLUE LINE: Ryan Chesley (Mahtomedi, Minn.) continues his impressive opening season with the NTDP, leading all U.S. defensemen in scoring with 12 goals, 18 assists and 20 points through 14 contests. His point totals also rank fourth on the U17s roster.
HEJDUK IN THE CLUTCH: Three of Marek Hejduk's (Parker, Colo.) five goals this season have been game winners. The forward (5g-7a-12) lifted the U.S. in a pair of games last October, before adding a game-winning goal in the U.S' victory over Janesville. In addition, Ryan Chesley and Logan Cooley have each notched a pair of game-winning tallies.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The U17s tallied three goals on the power play in their last weekend of play ahead of the holidays. 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.
DYNAMIC 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 tallies in the offensive zone. The pair lead the U17s in plus/minus, with Hutson garnering a +12 rating through 14 games and Leddy notching a +11 clip.
HOME IS WHERE THE WINS ARE: Even without large crowds at USA Hockey Arena, Team USA has found its stride at home. The U18s are 4-1-0-0 at home while the U17s are undefeated in five games. Team USA will host 10 games in Plymouth during the month of January where they will look to continue the team success.
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.
CAPTAIN YORK: NTDP alum Cam York (Anaheim Hills, Calif. / 2017-19) was named the captain of Team USA at the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton, Alberta. The 2019 1st round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers is second all-time in scoring by an NTDP defenseman as he notched 103 points (22g-81a) in 122 career games at the NTDP. His 81 assists ranks 10th all-time in program history.
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.