The U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams combine to play four road games this week. The U17s head to Iowa for both games while the U18s play one in Michigan and then head to Chicago.
OUT TO IOWA: Coming off their first United States Hockey League two-game sweep of the season, the U17s head on the road to play the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders on Friday and Saturday.
“I think our players realize how hard they have to work,” said assistant coach John Gruden. “You can’t take a day off or a shift. This is a good, competitive league and you are playing against older players. You have to work. If you don’t work, it doesn’t matter how talented you are. Without that competitive drive, it’s tough.
“I think they are starting to figure it out, and it will pay dividends for us.”
Over the weekend, the U17s swept two games in overtime against the Green Bay Gamblers, winning 5-4 on Friday and 4-3 on Saturday.
Clayton Keller (Swansea, Ill.) tallied a hat trick, including the game winner in overtime, in the first game. Joey Anderson (Roseville, Minn.) and Ryan Lindgren (Minneapolis, Minn.) also notched goals. Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.) and Joseph Woll (Dardenne Prairie, Mo.) combined in net for 21 saves.
In game two, Trent Frederic (St. Louis, Mo.) registered the overtime game winner while James Sanchez (Northbrook, Ill.), Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y.) and Anderson scored in regulation. Woll kicked out 48 shots to earn the win.
“It was really important for us to get the two wins this weekend, and we found a way to win in the second game,” Gruden said. “As much as these players struggle in the USHL to be able to come together as a group and lean on one another, that is part of their development. These kids are competitors, and they compete hard. When they see they can get it done together, I think it will allow this team to win a few more games the second half.”
ROAD TRIP: The U18s head back on the road to play the Michigan State University Spartans on Friday and the Chicago Steel on Saturday.
Friday's game versus the Spartans will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit Plus. Information on how to watch can be found here.
The U18s finished with a 1-2-1 (W-L-T) record over the past four contests, all against collegiate opponents.
The squad skated to a 2-2 overtime tie with Colorado College on Dec. 27, followed by an 8-4 loss on Dec. 28. Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill.) and Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio) registered the goals while Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) stopped 21 shots in game one. In game two, Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) netted a pair of goals while Joseph Masonius (Spring Lake, N.J) and Troy Terry (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) had single tallies. Lackey and Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) combined for 21 saves.
The U18s posted a 6-1 win over Adrian College at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio, on New Years Eve, which marked the first outdoor hockey game for Team USA. Michael Floodstrand (Hinsdale, Ill.), Brendan Warren (Carleton, Mich.), Terry, Fischer, Masonius and Tkachuk potted goals. Lackey stopped 17 shots to earn the win.
The U18s closed out the stretch with a 7-2 loss at the second-ranked University of North Dakota on Saturday. Roslovic and Charles McAvoy (Long Beach, N.Y.) provided the offense while Opilka kicked out 20 shots between the pipes.
NTDP AND THE WORLD JUNIORS: Fifteen players with ties to the National Team Development Program played for Team USA at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, including current U18 forward Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.).
Other NTDP players on the team included: forwards J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill./2011-13), Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./2012-14), Anthony Louis (Winfield, Ill./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) and Zach Werenski (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich./2013-14); and goaltender Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif./2012-13).
Additionally, U18 head coach Don Granato and equipment manager Jake Visser served as members of the U.S. National Junior Team staff.
U18 forward Michael Floodstrand and defenseman Joseph Masonius have been selected to compete in the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game that will take place on Jan. 13 in Dubuque, Iowa.
Former NTDP forward Dylan Pavelek (Marysville, Mich./2012-14) and netminder Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa./2012-14) both play for Michigan State.
University of New Hampshire sophomore forward Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass.) was named the Hockey East Player of the Week on Jan. 1. Kelleher notched one goal and four points in a two-game series at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
The U17s carry a 13-16 mark into this week’s action and have won two straight contests against USHL competition.
Clayton Keller (20-27) leads the U17s with 47 points in 29 games. Joey Anderson (14-12) is second with 26 points while Nick Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla./12-13) sits third with 25 points. Rounding out the top five are Chad Krys (Ridgefield, Conn./2-22) and Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y./3-16) with 24 and 19 points, respectively.
In goal for the U17s, Joseph Woll and Jake Oettinger split time. Woll is 7-8 with a 2.93 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage while Oettinger is 6-8 with a 2.73 GAA and a .907 save percentage.
The U18s are 22-9-2 this season, including a 7-6-2 mark against collegiate competition.
The U18s are paced by Auston Matthews (24-25) with 49 points. Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y./12-35) sits second with 47 points while Matthew Tkachuk (20-22) ranks third with 42 points. Christian Fischer (16-15) is fourth with 31 points while Jack Roslovic (8-22) rounds out the top five with 30 points.
Michael Lackey and Luke Opilka continue to split time in goal for the U18s. Opilka is 12-5 with a 3.15 GAA and an .879 save percentage while Lackey is 10-4-2 with a 3.08 GAA and an .881 save percentage.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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