The U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams play North American Hockey League all-star teams this week as part of the 2015 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, while the U18s also head on the road for two United States Hockey League contests.
THREE-GAME WEEK FOR U18s: The Under-18 Team hosts the NAHL's Team South at 7 p.m. ET on Monday at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube before heading back to Wisconsin to face the Green Bay Gamblers in a two-game USHL set on Friday and Saturday.
“This is a big week for our squad,” said head coach Don Granato, whose squad is 9-1 in its last 10 contests. “We are looking for that same momentum and intensity we displayed last weekend in our two road games. There are always areas of the game that we can work on, whether it is on the power play, in shorthanded situations or in 5-on-5. We will work on it during practice this week so we can apply these situations in the games as get into our stretch run.”
The U18s swept a two-game road trip against the Madison Capitols over the weekend, winning 9-2 on Friday and 6-3 on Saturday.
In the first game, Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) and Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) each tallied two goals and recorded four points to pace the offense. Casey Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass.), Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.), Grant Gabriele (Brighton, Mich.), Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) and Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio) also scored. Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) stopped 16 shots while Gavin Hubbard (Davidsonville, Md.) kicked out all four shots he faced.
Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) netted the hat trick in the second game. Troy Terry (Oyster Bay, N.Y.), Bracco and Roslovic also recorded goals. Opilka finished with 19 saves to earn his second win over the weekend.
“This was a huge weekend for our team, and our players responded well coming off a bye week,” Granato said. “Any time you can string together back-to-back road wins, it speaks volumes to the effort of the players. They worked hard on the ice and were rewarded.”
JUST THE NAHL PROSPECTS FOR U17s: The Under-17 Team hosts the NAHL Selects at 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday in their only game action this week.
“We have a quick turnaround for Tuesday’s game after playing two games on the road last weekend,” head coach Danton Cole said. “Following the game, our players will have a chance to go home this weekend before we gear up for the stretch run, which includes nine road games.”
The U17s dropped a pair of games on the road last week, falling 7-1 at the Omaha Lancers on Friday and 2-1 at the Sioux Falls Stampede on Saturday. Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y.) scored the lone goal against Omaha while Joseph Woll (Dardenne Prairie, Mo.) and Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.) combined for 26 stops. Against Sioux Falls, William Lockwood (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) scored the goal and Oettinger kicked out 28 shots.
Team USA is a combined 16-22-0 (W-L-OTL) in USHL play this season.
U18 coach Don Granato served as the head coach and general manager for the Green Bay Gamblers from 1994-97. During that span, he coached the Gamblers to the regular-season championship in 1995-96 and 1996-97 and the Clark Cup Championship in 1996.
Former NTDP and current Boston College forward Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y./2012-14) was selected the Hockey East Rookie of the Week on Feb. 16. Tuch tallied the game-tying goal and followed with the game-winning goal against the University of Vermont.
Defenseman Louie Belpedio (Skokie, Ill./2012-14) of Miami University was selected the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Rookie of the Week for Feb. 9-15. He tallied a goal and an assist in the RedHawks’ two-game sweep at Colorado College.
Former NTDP netminder Collin Olson (Apple Valley, Minn./2010-12), now with the Sioux City Musketeers, was selected as the USHL Goaltender of the Week for Feb. 9-15. He stopped all 22 shots in a 5-0 win over Des Moines and had 23 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to Tri-City.
U17 defenseman Chad Krys (Ridgefield, Conn.) played with the U18s in its two-game set at Madison. He collected four assists in the two contests.
The U18s carry a 32-10-1-2 (W-L-OTL-T) mark into this week’s action and are averaging 4.76 goals per game while allowing 3.02.
Auston Matthews (33-34) continues to pace the U18s in with 67 points, while Jeremy Bracco (21-40) is second with 61. Matthew Tkachuk (26-32) sits third with 58 points. Jack Roslovic (13-32) and Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill./19-19) round out the top five with 45 and 38 points, respectively.
In goal for the U18s, Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) and Luke Opilka split time. Opilka is 20-5 with a 2.91 goals-against average and an .883 save percentage while Lackey is 12-5-1-2 (W-L-OTL-T) with a 2.90 GAA and an .887 save percentage.
The U17s will bring an 18-25 mark into its lone game this week.
The U17s are led by Clayton Keller (Swansea, Ill./24-33), who has tallied 57 points. Joey Anderson (Roseville, Minn./17-17) ranks second with 34 points while Chad Krys (3-26) is third with 29 points. Rounding out the top five are Nick Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla./13-15) and Adam Fox (4-20) with 28 and 24 points, respectively.
In goal for the U17s, Joseph Woll and Jake Oettinger share duties. Woll is 9-13 with a 3.31 GAA and an .888 saves percentage while Oettinger is 9-12 with a 2.65 GAA and a .914 save percentage.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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