It is a quiet week in Plymouth, Michigan, as the U.S. National Under-17 Team plays its final home game while the Under-18 Team goes to Minnesota to begin preparations for the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 Men’s World Championship.
FINAL WEEKEND: The U17s close out the season with a home-and-home series against the Youngstown Phantoms. The teams meet at USA Hockey Arena Friday before the series goes to the Covelli Centre in Ohio on Saturday.
The U17s dropped a two-game set at Green Bay over the weekend, falling 7-2 on Friday and 2-0 on Saturday. Grant Mismash (Edina, Minn.) and Logan Cockerill (Brighton, Mich.) had the goals Friday while Adam Scheel (Lakewood, Ohio) finished with 31 saves. Goalie Dylan St. Cyr (Northville, Mich.) made 29 stops on Saturday.
UNDER-18 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: The U18s head to Blaine, Minnesota, on Wednesday for a pre-tournament camp ahead of the U18 World Championship, which begins April 14 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The squad plays two pre-tournament games: Friday against Finland and Sunday against Denmark. Team USA kicks off tournament action against Russia on April 14.
“This week will be about the process,” U18 coach Danton Cole said. “We want our players to be fresh and sharp mentally. We will probably work on some system stuff and work to figure a few things out. Winning is a good habit, and I want out guys to keep that hunger.”
The U18s closed out the regular season with a 5-3 win over Muskegon on Thursday. Casey Mittelstadt (Edina, Minn.) paced the offense with two goals while Clayton Keller (Swansea, Ill.), Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn.) and Graham McPhee (Bethesda, Md.) had single tallies. Goalie Joseph Woll (St. Louis, Mo.) finished with 18 stops.
Don Granato, who spent the last five years as a head coach at the National Team Development Program, resigned to accept a position as associate head coach for the University of Wisconsin men’s ice hockey program. Granato rejoins his alma matter where, as a player, he was a four-year letter winner (1987-91) and a member of the 1990 NCAA Division I national champion Badgers.
Granato spent the 2015-16 season at the helm of the U17s. He led his team to a win a last year’s U18 World Championship and a silver medal in 2013. Other significant successes in Granato’s tenure include a 2014 win at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y./2012-14) made his National Hockey League debut on March 31 against the New York Islanders. With his call up, a total of 73 NTDP alums have played in the NHL this season.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y./2004-06) reached the 40-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career on Friday and leads the NHL with 100 points (43-37). He became the first Blackhawks player to score 40 goals in a season since Tony Amonte (43) in 1999-00.
New Jersey Devils forward Blake Pietila (Brighton, Mich./2009-11) scored his first NHL goal on March 31 in a 3-2 loss at Florida. See the goal here.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Saad (Gibsonia, Pa./2009-10) posted his first NHL hat trick on Saturday.
Frank Vatrano (East Longmeadow, Mass./2010-12) of the Providence Bruins was named the American Hockey League Rookie of the Month for March. Vatrano tallied eight goals and recorded 13 points in eight games.
Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif./2012-13) is one of three finalists for the 2016 Hobey Baker Award. Demko leads the country in shutouts (10) and was named the outstanding player at the Northeast Regional in leading the Eagles to the Frozen Four. The Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced on Friday.
The U17s carry an 18-30-8 (W-L-OTL) overall record into this week.
Scott Reedy (Prior Lake, Minn./19-31) leads the U17s with 50 points while Grant Mismash (23-21) sits second with 44 points. Evan Barratt (Bristol, Pa./14-25) is third with 39 points. Jacob Tortora (Victor, N.Y./15-16) and Sean Dhooghe (Aurora, Ill./20-10) rank fourth and fifth with 31 and 30 points, respectively.
Goalies Dylan St. Cyr and Adam Scheel split time for the U17s. St. Cyr is 13-15-4 with a 3.28 GAA and an .887 save percentage. Scheel is 5-15-4 with a 4.33 GAA and an .877 save percentage.
The U18s finished the regular season with a 37-13-4-1 (W-L-OTL-T) record.
The U18s are paced by Clayton Keller (30-57), who has amassed 87 points while Kieffer Bellows (41-28) is second with 69 points. Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y./8-41) is third with 49 points. Joey Anderson (Roseville, Minn./20-23) and Trent Frederic (St. Louis, Mo./16-16) round out the top five with 43 and 32 points, respectively.
Goalies Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.) and Joseph Woll split time for the U18s. Oettinger is 20-8-1-0 with a 2.56 GAA and a .903 save percentage. Woll is 17-5-3-1 with a 2.27 GAA and a .915 save percentage.
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Sonny Milano plays first NHL game for the Blue Jackets against his hometown New York Islanders.
Blake Pietila wishes first NHL goal was more important to the Devils.
The University of Michigan’s J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill./2011-13) showed composure in defeat.
Persistence is paying off for former NTDP and current UConn forward Tage Thompson (Oyster Bay, N.Y./2014-15).
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Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.