USA Hockey's National Team Development Program has a quiet week. The U.S. National Under-18 Team heads to the University of Wisconsin this weekend for a single game while the U.S. National Under-17 Team has a bye as it prepares to host the Four Nations Tournament next week.
ON WISCONSIN: The U18s face the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday in Madison, Wisconsin. The Badgers are under the direction of Mike Eaves, a head coach with the NTDP from 2000-02. Eaves guided Team USA to its first gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation Men's Under-18 World Championship in 2002 in Piestany, Slovakia.
Meanwhile, the game is a homecoming for head coach Don Granato, who played for the Badgers from 1987-91 and helped the team win the 1990 NCAA title.
“It’s always special for me to go back to Madison, where I played my college hockey,” Granato said. “I have great memories from my time at Wisconsin. Plus, my first coaching job was with the Madison Capitals in 1993.
“From a team standpoint, we want to go in and play our game. If we do that, we can definitely be successful. We want to start out the game strong, as we cannot afford to fall behind, especially against college competition.”
The U18s split a pair of United States Hockey League road games with the Youngstown Phantoms over the weekend.
Troy Terry (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) scored in the shootout to help secure a 5-4 come-from-behind win on Friday. Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) tallied a pair of goals while Brendan Warren (Carleton, Mich.) and Casey Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass.) had single goals. Goalie Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) kicked out 16 shots.
Team USA lost 6-2 in the rematch on Saturday. Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill.) and Nicholas Boka (Plymouth, Mich.) scored the goals. Goalie Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) stopped 27 shots before Opilka came in relief and made five saves.
PREPARING TO HOST: The U17s will not see any game action this week as they prepare to host the Four Nations Tournament from Dec. 16-20.
“This is a good week for preparation as we will be able to get quality time both on the ice and in the weight room,” head coach Danton Cole said. “We will continue to work on all aspects of our transition game. This is going to be important as we continue to prepare for the upcoming Four Nations.”
The U17s dropped a pair of weekend games at Muskegon, falling 4-0 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday. Goalie Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.) stopped 31 shots in game one. James Sanchez (Northbrook, Ill.) and Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y.) scored in the second game while goalie Joseph Woll (Dardenne Prairie, Mo.) kicked out 25 shots.
Tickets are on sale for the 2014 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament, which will be held Dec. 16-20, at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. The Four Nations will feature teams from Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United States. Each team participates in three round-robin contests before Championship Saturday on Dec. 20, which features a third-place game and title game.
Tournament passes include tickets to all games and are $40 for adults and $20 for seniors and children. Single-day tickets are also available and include access to two games. Prices are $12 for adults, $7 for seniors and children and $5 for groups of 10 or more. All tickets are general admission. To purchase tickets, call (734) 327-9251 or submit an online ticket order form here.
Former NTDP forward Blake Geoffrion (Brentwood, Tenn./2004-06), who won the 2010 Hobey Baker Award as a senior at Wisconsin, made his broadcasting debut on Friday. Geoffrion teamed up with John Buccigross to call the Wisconsin-Penn State hockey game on ESPNews.
Two former NTDP players are on Wisconsin’s roster: defenseman Jack Dougherty (Cottage Grove, Minn./2013-14) and forward Ryan Wagner (Park Ridge, Ill./2013-14).
NTDP players Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) and Luke Opilka have signed National Letters of Intent to play at Wisconsin starting in 2015-16.
Nineteen players with ties to the NTDP were named to the 2015 U.S. National Junior Team preliminary roster on Dec. 2, including U18 forwards Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) and Auston Matthews. Former NTDP players on the roster include: forwards J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill./2011-13), Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./2012-14), Anthony Louis (Winfield, Ill./2011-13), Michael McCarron (Macomb, Mich./2011-13), Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y./2012-14), Tyler Motte (St. Clair, Mich./2011-13), John Hayden (Greenwich, Conn./2011-13), Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y./2012-14), Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich./2012-14) and Hudson Fasching (Apple Valley, Minn./2011-13); defensemen Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass./2013-14), Will Butcher (Sun Prairie, Wis./2011-13), Ryan Collins (Bloomington, Minn./2012-14), Steven Santini (Mahopac, N.Y./2011-13), Zach Werenski (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich./2013-14) and Jack Dougherty (Cottage Grove, Minn./2013-14); and goalie Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif./2012-13). Additionally, NTDP U18 head coach Don Granato and equipment manager Jake Visser will serve on the U.S. National Junior Team staff. The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship takes place Dec. 26-Jan. 5, in Montreal and Toronto.
Former NTDP standout and current Boston University star Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./2012-14) was named the Hockey East Player of the Month for November. Eichel had five multi-point games during the month of November with a total of six played.
The U18s are 5-4-1 (W-L-T) against college competition this season.
Auston Matthews (22-25) paces the U18s with 47 points. Jeremy Bracco (12-33) ranks second with 45 points while Matthew Tkachuk (16-19) sits third with 35 points. Rounding out the top-five are Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio/6-20) and Christian Fischer (12-12) with 26 and 24 points, respectively.
In goal for the U18s, Michael Lackey and Luke Opilka continue to split time. Opilka is 11-3 with a 2.97 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage while Lackey is 9-3-1 with a 2.97 GAA and an .888 save percentage.
The U17s are led by Clayton Keller (Swansea, Ill./14-19), who has recorded 33 points. Chad Krys (Ridgefield, Conn./2-17) ranks second with 19 points. Max Jones (Rochester Mich./11-6) and Nick Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla./7-10) are tied for third with 17 points each. Joey Anderson (Roseville, Minn./10-6) is fifth with 16 points.
Joseph Woll and Jake Oettinger split time between the pipes for the U17s. Woll is 4-7 with a 3.04 GAA and an .898 save percentage while Oettinger is 5-7 with a 2.98 GAA and a .904 save percentage.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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