For a second-straight week, it will be fairly quiet around the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. The U.S. National Under-17 Team will play a home-and-home series to wrap up the season while the U18s head to Germany to begin preparations for the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 World Championship.
FINAL WEEKEND: The U17s close out the season with a home-and-home series with the Youngstown Phantoms. The team’s final home game at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube is at 7 p.m. ET Friday. The U17s then travel to Youngstown to close out the season on Saturday.
The U17s split a pair of road games this past weekend, beating Muskegon 4-0 on Friday to snap an 11-game losing streak before dropping a 4-3 decision at Chicago on Saturday.
Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.) kicked out 28 shots en route to the shutout victory at Muskegon. Patrick Khodorenko (Walnut Creek, Calif.) and William Lockwood (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) each tallied a pair of goals to pace the offense.
“This is a good final weekend of play for our squad,” head coach Danton Cole said. “We have been so close on several different weekends the last few weeks, but we were finally rewarded for our effort on Friday night, earning a shutout road win. It was much needed for our team’s psyche and confidence.”
READY FOR THE WORLD: The U18s begin preparations for the U18 World Championship, which run April 16-26 in Zug and Lucerne, Switzerland.
Team USA will leave on Tuesday for training camp in Füssen, Germany. The squad will play two pre-tournament games prior to preliminary-round action: against Germany on Friday in Germany and Monday against Finland in Lucerne. Team USA opens play on April 16 against Russia.
“We will have almost a week to prepare before our first game against Russia,” head coach Don Granato said. “This will allow us to work on some of the different areas of our game. We have time to work on different situations, including the power play and penalty kill. It will be good to have time to fine tune those areas before our first game.”
Tickets for home games played at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube are $7 for adults and $5 for children, seniors and active military members. Youth hockey players wearing their team jerseys are admitted for $1 and group rates are available. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling the NTDP at (734) 327-9251.
Former NTDP and current Boston University forward Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./2012-14) is one of three finalists for the 2015 Hobey Baker Memorial Award. Eichel, who is the first freshman Hobey Baker candidate in 12 years, leads the nation with 67 points in 38 games.
Former University of Michigan defenseman Chris Tamer, who played 11 seasons in the NHL with Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers and Atlanta, was behind the bench with the U17 Team this past weekend as an assistant coach.
Former NTDP and current Manchester Monarchs forward Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill./2008-10) was named the American Hockey League Rookie of the Month on April 1 after posting six goals and 14 points and a plus-8 rating in 13 games during the month of March.
Two former NTDP players — Ryan Bourque (Boxford, Mass./2007-09/Hartford Wolf Pack) and Justin Florek (Marquette, Mich./2006-08/Providence Bruins) — were the individual team winners of the American Hockey League Man of the Year award and were selected by their respective clubs for their outstanding contributions to the local community and charitable organizations during the 2014-15 season. Bourque and Florek are now eligible for the 2014-15 Yanick Dupré Memorial Award.
Former NTDP defenseman Brady Skjei (Lakeville, Minn./2010-12), who played three years at the University of Minnesota, signed an entry-level contract with the New York Rangers on April 1. Skjei was drafted by the Rangers in the first round (No. 28 overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Team USA has combined for a 25-30-3 (W-L-OTL) mark in United States Hockey League play this season.
The U17s will bring a 19-32-2 mark into the final weekend of action.
The U17s are paced by Clayton Keller (Swansea, Ill./25-34), who has 59 points. Joey Anderson (Roseville, Minn./21-21) ranks second with 42 points, while Patrick Khodorenko (11-20) is third with 31 points. Rounding out the top five are Nick Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla./13-17) and Chad Krys (Ridgefield, Conn./3-26), with 30 and 29 points, respectively.
In goal for the U17s, Joseph Woll and Jake Oettinger share duties. Woll is 9-18 with a 3.48 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage while Oettinger is 10-13-2 with a 2.57 GAA and a .916 save percentage.
The U18s closed out the regular season with a 41-11-3-2 (W-L-OTL-T) mark. The squad is averaging 5.04 goals per game while allowing 2.86 goals per game.
Auston Matthews (44-50) paces the U18s with 94 points. Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo./34-47) is second with 81 points, while Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y./26-49) is third with 75 points. Rounding out the top five are Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio/21-46) and Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill./28-25) with 67 and 53 points, respectively.
In goal for the U18s, Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) and Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) have split time. Opilka is 24-5-2 with a 2.70 GAA and an .888 save percentage, while Lackey is 15-6-1-2 with a 2.82 GAA and an .887 save percentage. In two starts with the U18s, Jake Oettinger is 2-0 with a 2.50 GAA and an .891 save percentage.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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