Both National Team Development Program squads will be in action this week for a combined four United States Hockey League games. The U.S. National Under-17 Team hosts two games at the USA Hockey Arena while the Under-18 squad plays two road games. Team USA is a combined 5-3-1 (W-L-OTL) in USHL play this season.
BACK FROM THE BYE: Following a bye week, the U17s return home for a two-game series against the Fargo Force on Friday and Saturday. Face-off is set for 7 p.m. both nights.
“It will be nice to get back into game action this weekend,” said U17 coach Don Granato, whose squad has been off since Nov. 6. “Our break came at a well-needed time for our squad, and many of our players were able to go home last weekend and spend time with their family. We will be back on the ice this week, getting ready for two games against a tough opponent.”
BACK ON THE ROAD: The U18s play at the Omaha Lancers on Friday before facing the Buccaneers in Des Moines on Saturday. Start time for both games is 8:05 p.m. ET.
“We are ready for a good test,” U18 coach Danton Cole said. “It’s definitely a difficult challenge when we head out west with our travel. I also think it is good for us, as we still have things we need to work on. The effort has been there, but there are still things we can do to get better.”
The U18s swept a pair of home games this weekend, beating Youngstown 3-0 on Friday and Niagara University 3-2 in overtime on Saturday. They have now won nine straight.
Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.) earned his first shutout of the season when he stopped 20 shots against the Phantoms. Luke Martin (St. Louis, Mo.), Clayton Keller (Swansea, Ill.) and Joey Anderson (Roseville, Minn.) tallied the goals.
Keller netted the game winner just 1:37 into the extra session against Niagara. Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn.) and Trent Frederic (St. Louis, Mo.) notched the goals in regulation. Goalie Joseph Woll (St. Louis, Mo.) kicked out 28 shots to earn the win.
“With this group, everyone seems to buy in when this team wins,” Cole said. “When things are going well, our players embrace their role on the team. They do a good job on defense, or come in on the penalty kill, or find that role they need to fill. Our guys have bought into it. It’s been fun in practice and in games to watch the development.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.