The U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams head out to their respective Five Nations Tournaments this week. The U17 tournament is in Dmitrov, Russia, while the U18 event takes place in Kravare and Poruba, Czech Republic.
END OF THE INTERNATIONAL ROAD: The U17s play their final international tournament of the year when they head to Russia for the Five Nations. The round-robin event runs from Tuesday to Saturday and features the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
The U17s open play on Tuesday against the Czech Republic, followed by a Wednesday tilt against Russia, a Thursday game against Finland and the final game against Sweden on Friday.
“Russia has been our nemesis this year. I think we have played well against them, but we will need to find ways to create some more offense, especially five-on-five,” head coach Danton Cole said. “Overall, there are some areas that we can clean up in international play, including the amount of penalties that we have taken. We need to use our speed and ability to move the puck, and when we stick with that, we are a pretty good team.”
The U17s are 8-3 in international play this season. The squad placed second in its first two international competitions, the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Ontario in early November and the Four Nations Tournament in mid-December in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The team has been off since dropping a pair of United States Hockey League games to Bloomington at home on Jan. 24-25.
TOURNAMENT TIME: The U18s open their Five Nations Tournament against Sweden on Wednesday, and then play Russia on Friday, Finland on Saturday and the Czech Republic on Sunday in their second of three international tournaments this year. The squad won its first international tournament of the season, the Four Nations Tournament in Sweden, posting a perfect 4-0 mark, and closes out the year with the Under-18 World Championship in April.
“This is a good test for our squad,” head coach Don Granato said. “This will be our toughest international tournament to date, and I expect that we will see a full compliment of players from the other countries. We are looking for our players to elevate their play and understand what we are continuing to build towards. This is one of the last big steps before the end of the year. We are looking to play with consistency, focus and giving 100 percent effort on each and every shift.”
The U18s enter their Five Nations Tournament with a 27-10-2 (W-L-T) mark and have won five straight contests. The team has been off since Jan. 24-25, when the squad swept a pair of road games at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.