Follow along Team USA's journey at the 2022 IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championship! The tournament takes place April 23- May 1 in Kaufbeuren and Landshut, Germany.
Getting down to breakfast this morning, there was a buzz throughout the floor. But it wasn’t about hockey…what do you think of Hutchinson? Where are all the quarterbacks? It was a lot of chatter about the NFL Draft. With the time change, football's first-round selections took place overnight, while the team and staff had to wake up to see who their respective squads took in the opening round.
Hunter Brzustewicz (Washington Twp., Mich.) is one of the two Michigan natives on the team and a big hometown Detroit Lions fan.
"One of the best drafts I’ve seen in the past few years. I like the bold move of trading back up [for Alabama WR Jameson Williams]," said the defenseman. "I think it’s going to pay out for us in the future."
With his focus shifting back over to the ice sheet, the University of Michigan commit gave his thoughts on the team's first elimination game of the tournament, a 13-3 USA quarterfinal win over Latvia.
"It was definitely nerve-wracking, knowing that our two years of work could be ended in one night. But once we started, we got on them early, got pucks to the net and found a way to get through to the semifinals."
The team took an afternoon skate at Fanatec Arena to get the blades wet and keep everyone's bodies moving. Getting back to the hotel with a couple hours to kill - the group played cards, talked and told stories on the outdoor patio on a perfect Spring afternoon and finished up a few looming gaming tournaments.
But all the focus is on tomorrow and Czechia.
"We’re confident going into this game, but we have to respect our opponent," continued Brzustewicz. "It’s going to be a good test for us, they’re a good team, but I think we’re ready for it."
Until after the tournament, everyone. This team is off to bring home a medal.
GET TO KNOW HUNTER BRZUSTEWICZ
Three people you'd invite to your dinner table: One is for sure Tom Brady. Two, Elon Musk. Three, Justin Bieber, I like his vibe, how he's so chill.
Pregame pump up music: None. I'm not a music guy. Some EDM in the locker room.
Favorite meal in Germany: The schnitzel, probably the most famous too. Or the bacon pasta.
What would you choose for a superpower: Teleportation. We could be home right now and just buzz back to Europe. That would be cool.
What do you miss most about your siblings: Just the bonding. We're not home together a lot, but the times we are, the four of us, it's awesome to just tell stories and catch up with everyone. It's always great seeing them and I miss them so much when we leave.
Any favorite NTDP player growing up: Not really.a favorite player, but I always looked forward to going to games. Fridays would be our night to go.
LANDSHUT, Germany - The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team used a hat-trick from Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) to take down Latvia, 13-3, Thursday evening at Fanatec Arena. With the win, Team USA advances to the 2022 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship semifinals, where they will take on Czechia Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m. ET).
“I was proud of our guys, they were ready to go,” said head coach Adam Nightingale (Cheboygan, Mich.). “The big thing for us is we want to play team hockey and they did a great job of that tonight. It’s time to get a good day of practice tomorrow and be ready for Czechia on Saturday.”
When thinking about youth hockey across America, you're probably quick to think of the "M" states - Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts. But one of the quickest rising producers of hockey players is New Jersey, home of Under-18 players Tyler Muszelik (Long Valley, N.J.) and Devin Kaplan (Bridgewater, N.J.). In 23 years of the tournament, the two are just the 13th and 14th players from the Garden State to play for the U.S. at this tournament. For the pair, it was just a matter of trying out the game before they fell in love with it.
"I went to Aspen Ice in Randolph for Try Hockey For Free," said Muszelik. "I liked it and went out to join the rec team and it just took off from there."
"My dad played baseball growing up, but he went to Colgate and loved watching the Colgate-Cornell rivalry games there," added Kaplan. "He made my two older brothers fall in love with it, and I grew up watching them play and loved it."
Growing up nearly 600 miles away from USA Hockey Arena, the National Team Development Program was never a secret and always a goal for the former youth hockey teammates.
"Since I was about 13, I've known about it and it's always a big deal," added Muszelik. "I knew it'd be cool to play here and great for development. I've always wanted to play here once I found out about it."
"My brother had a buddy who was a '97 who made the team, Kaplan continued. "That was when I first learned about it and ever since then, it's the only thing I've wanted to do."
The boys said one of the toughest parts about playing youth hockey in NJ was the travel needed to face the top competition, going to Boston multiple times per year, Arizona, Detroit, all around the country. Now, the travel with Team USA is one of their favorite parts.
GET TO KNOW THE JERSEY NATIVES
Three people you'd invite to your dinner table
TM: One would be Henrik Lundqvist, for sure. Good style, cool person, would be cool to spend some time with him. Tom Brady would be cool, one of the best athletes of all-time. And Adam Sandler, funny guy, quality add to the table.
DK: Michael Phelps. Tiger Woods, because he's had such a crazy career and so many bounce-backs. And Elon Musk, I could probably learn a few things there.
Favorite meal in Germany:
DK: The bacon, ham, pasta pregame dinner.
TM: Definitely that, but the schnitzel was really good, too.
Favorite Family Memory:
TM: We go on a trip every summer. Last year was St. Lucia and this year we're going to Cancun. I'm definitely looking forward to that.
DK: My family would go to Cape Cod every year. Go up there, take a ferry to Nantucket, that was always really fun.
What would your superpower be:
DK: Telekinesis, being able to read people's minds and what they really think of you. Would be so cool.
TM: Teleportation would be pretty cool, go back and forth in time.
What do you miss most about New Jersey:
Both: The beach!!
LANDSHUT, Germany - Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.), Cole Spicer (Grand Forks, N.D.) and Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) all scored twice as Team USA skated past Germany, 10-2, Tuesday night to sweep preliminary-round play at the 2022 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship.
"I was proud of our guys, I though they played as a team throughout the whole game," said head coach Adam Nightingale (Cheboygan, Mich.). "Now it’s time to reset, have a good day of practice tomorrow and get ready for our quarterfinal matchup on Thursday."
After back-to-back wins to open the 2022 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship, Team USA took Monday to recharge the batteries in anticipation of tomorrow's game against host Germany.
The team got to Fanatec Arena for their afternoon practice slot and had an optional skate. For those not on the ice, it was to the accompanying soccer field for an outside workout. It's imperative to keep the legs moving and blood flowing, especially outside of a gameday.
For the first time this trip, the boys got to experience the city center of Landshut. With beautiful streets, great shops and certainly some gelato for the gang, it was nice to see something new today. A quick tour took the team through some historical churches and gave views of the castle in town.
After enjoying a nice day off, sleep becomes the defining factor tonight. The team needs a great night's sleep before returning to the ice sheet tomorrow to finish out the round-robin portion of the schedule.
"We're really pumped. It's always a great experience to play the host team. I think the barn will be buzzing, the energy will be high and we'll be ready to go." - Defenseman Tyler Duke.
GET TO KNOW TYLER DUKE
If you could invite two people to dinner, who would they be: Baker Mayfield, he's my favorite quarterback and I'd love to meet him. I'd also go with my brother.
What would you pick for a superpower: I'd love to be able to fly. I think it'd be cool to get from A to B whenever I want and get up in the air to see over people.
Favorite moment this season: When we went to Switzerland for the Five Nations. Winning as Team USA is something really special and we're looking to do that again here.
What do you miss most about home in Ohio: I miss being with my family at our lake house in Ohio. We have a boat, and a lot of family, friends and cousins that we hang out. That's something I miss and I'm looking forward to getting back out there this summer.
Favorite meal so far in Germany: The pork chops have been really good, I like the gravy on top. And the noodles mixed in there, get the gravy on the noodles too.
"We try to stay composed and focus on the things we can control," said head coach Adam Nightingale (Cheboygan, Mich.) after the team was down 1-0 after a period. "There was no panic in the room, but we knew we had to be better and they went out and had a great finish to the game. It was a good team win and we look forward to our game on Tuesday."
LANDSHUT, Germany - The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team used a four-goal, one-assist performance from Isaac Howard (Hudson, Wis.) to top Canada, 8-3, here tonight in its opening game of the 2022 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship.
Howard's four goals tied the tournament and U.S. record for most goals in a single game at the IIHF U18 Men's World Championship.
"Ike's got a real unique ability to finish," head coach Adam Nightingale (Cheboygan, Mich.) said after the game. "I like how he created, playing tenacious and getting to the inside. Now it's about moving on to the next game and getting ready to go tomorrow."
A standard practice of any IIHF tournament is photo day, including individual portraits and team photos, which was today for the U.S. Prior to the team's skate, the staff and players all lined up for their turns in front of the camera.
Each year brings a different mentality and set of questions to picture day. Is the hair feathered and/or lethal? Who gets to go first? Last? And of interest for the content team this year, do you smile for the camera or mean mug it? Check out the video on the left for your answer. Let's just say this trip is all business.
And that business begins tomorrow with Canada. See you then for gameday, folks.
LEADERSHIP TEAM ANNOUNCED
Along with the submission of the team roster that will enter the tournament, the U.S. also announced its leadership group for the tournament. Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) was named captain while Ryan Chesley (Mahtomedi, Minn.) and Cutter Gauthier (Scottdale, Ariz.) will wear "A's" as alternate captains for the championship.
McGroarty and Chesley are returners from last year's U18 Team and neither take this opportunity lightly.
"It's awesome to know the guys look up to me like that and respect me," said Chesley. "I'm ready to help lead the group into the tournament."
"The team voted me in and it means the world to me," McGroarty continued. "It's a great group of guys. But there are a lot of leaders on our team who aren't wearing a letter, too. For me, I just have to stay true to who I am."
For Gauthier, not only is this his first IIHF event, but also his first time being named a captain.
"It's a huge honor to wear a letter for your country. It's something special and something I've never done before. It's a pretty cool opportunity and I'm looking forward to it."
Ryan Chesley (L), Rutger McGroarty (C) and Cutter Gauthier (R)
The team returned to Fanatec Arena for an hour-long practice this afternoon. To warm up, the soccer ball stayed; the game changed. Instead of playing sewer, the boys took to the pitch right outside the locker rooms doors for some penalty kick shootouts, showing off their multi-sport athletic ability…but they ended back where is most comfortable, on the ice.
Stepping inside their designated tournament locker room for the first time, the team looked around at slogans, motivational signage and “Old Glory” hanging.
Leading the charge in the layout of the team’s locker room is Brock Bradley, the equipment manager at his 11th IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship. All of the details, accents and signage in the room is obviously a thought-out process, made well in advance of the tournament by Bradley and the coaching staff.
“A lot is based on and built off of the history of the last 25 years of the National Team Development Program,” Bradley said. “A bunch of it is built off of tradition and the history of our country, too. It is a national team and a big part of the process is knowing that you are playing for something bigger than yourself.”
Bradley is a seasoned veteran in international competition, having additionally served as equipment manager at a pair of World Junior Championships, including the bronze-medal winning team in 2018. But each opportunity to travel the world is special for the upstate New York native.
“It’s an honor to be able to represent your country. I have a lot of pride in the United States and don’t take any of these tournaments for granted.”
GET TO KNOW RYAN LEONARD
Three people you'd invite to dinner: Michael Jordan, just 'cause it's Michael Jordan. Tiger Woods, I'd just like to hear his story. And Wayne Gretzky just to see how hockey has changed from then until now.
Favorite family memory: Every summer we'd go to the Jersey Shore with the entire family, just spending countless hours messing around on the beach. Just walking to get ice cream every night, hanging with them is a blast.
What advice did your older brother [SJ Sharks forward John Leonard] give you: My brother told me not to overthink it, just play your game. There's a reason you're here. Just do you and you'll be fine.
What are your expectations coming into the tournament: Just help the team in any way possible. Whether that's being an energy guy, killing penalties, whatever they need, I'm here for it.
If you had a choice of superpower, what would it be: Time travel. I'd want to see the world in 100 years with all the technology. Or go back 100 years and see how our parents and grandparents lived their childhoods.
Leonard at the pre-tournament game against Finland
After back-to-back pre-tournament games and getting adjusted to the time change, Team USA took a break from the ice today. But that didn’t mean the squad didn’t get to the rink…or was able to sleep in. Although fewer in quantity this year, COVID-19 tests are mandated at points throughout the tournament, and this morning was our turn. So it was off to the rink for a 9:30 a.m. appointment with some swab sticks down the throat. Here’s to positive….errrr, negative….results.
During the rest day and after their return to the hotel, the team took part in stretches and workouts, played extensive games of sewerball and even got in a few video games to keep the boys loose.
At the rink, the support staff shifted Team USA’s locker rooms in advance of entering the official tournament. The team (and the readers) will get to see what the new set-up looks like tomorrow when they return to Fanatec Arena.
One of the people helping with the move was Team USA’s host at the U18 World Championship, Mele Mosqueda. He was born in Huntington Beach, California, and grew up playing American football. Mele suited up collegiately at Chapman University and first came to Germany to play professionally for the Allgaeu Comets. His playing career was cut short due to a knee injury, so he began to coach for the Comets, beginning as the defensive backs and strength and conditioning coach. Most recently, Mosqueda was the head coach of the Finnish National Team, which competed at the 2022 European Championship of American Football and captured the bronze medal.
Mele is currently the director of sports performance for FSV Frankfurt soccer club. This is his first time serving as a host for an IIHF event after he was asked by the DEB, the German ice hockey federation. Mosqueda is fluent in English, Spanish and German and his favorite attraction in Germany is LegoLand in Gunzberg. Mele is a great asset, translator and friend to the team for the duration of our stay!
LANDSHUT, Germany - The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team used six unanswered goals from six different scorers to push past Finland, 6-1, in its final pre-tournament game ahead of the 2022 IIHF U18 Men's World Championship.
Isaac Howard (Hudson, Wis.), Ryan Chesley (Mahtomedi, Minn.) and Logan Cooley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) scored in the opening period while Jimmy Snuggerud (Chaska, Minn.), Devin Kaplan (Bridgewater, N.J.) and Cole Spicer (Grand Forks, N.D.) tallied a trio in the middle frame en route to USA's win.
The team will open up preliminary-round play Saturday evening against Canada. NHL Network will broadcast the game at 3:30 p.m. ET (delayed broadcast/available live on ESPN+).
KAUFBEUREN, Germany - The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team fell to Sweden, 3-2 in a shootout, Monday evening at Erdgas Schwaben Arena in Germany in its first of two pre-tournament games ahead of the 2022 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship.
After a scoreless five-minute overtime session, the two sides went to a shootout that lasted 10 rounds. Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) scored in Round 4 and Cole Spicer (Grand Forks, N.D.) kept the game alive matching Sweden in Round 8, but the Swedes netted a third to pick up the win.
Being able to wear the red, white and blue across your chest is one of the greatest privileges one can receive as a hockey player. While that privilege is a huge honor, it’s also a big commitment. At times, that commitment can take you away from other opportunities – maybe that’s seeing a sibling’s sports game, spending time with hometown friends or especially on a day like today, missing family for holidays.
Easter Sunday is traditionally a day that involves spending time with family and loved ones. While missing his biological family at home, Seamus Powell (Marcellus, N.Y.) says the team creates its own brotherhood on the road and throughout the season to help ease the burden.
“It’s hard [being away], but I’m with all the boys, so they help make it easier. I’ll definitely check in back home with a FaceTime or phone call for sure, that’s huge.”
As with many holidays, Easter is one filled with traditions. Powell recalls what the family routine is back home.
“We’d go over to my grandpa’s house. He cooks up a little brunch and we’d just go hunting with my cousins in the back yard,” he remembered. “He’s got some plastic eggs with some chocolate coins, candy, maybe a few dollars in there. That’s probably my favorite Easter pastime, just going in the back yard and looking for eggs.”
The team checks in with their families back home pretty much every day, but today’s call rings just a little more special.
Hunter Brzustewicz and Powell at the team hotel
Best family vacation: A few years ago we went to North Carolina with all my cousins, that was pretty legit. And every year, we go to the Adirondacks. Go to the woods and play some golf, get some quality family time.
Three people you'd invite to your dinner table: For sure Hunter Brzustewicz, he’d be there. Quality guy, funny guy, he gets the job done for sure. Ryan Leonard is kind of looking me right in the eye right now, so I’ll give him a mention. And Lane Hutson is also staring me down right now, so those three guys are definitely coming.
But actually this is a tough question. I’d probably bring my Grandpa back, I last saw him when I was 11. I miss him a lot, so I’d definitely want to get him back. Growing up, I’d probably bring Sidney Crosby. I watched him and was a Penguins fan. It’d be cool to talk to him and pick his brain. And Elon Musk, he’s just a great mind.
Best memories with your brothers: Playing street hockey when it’s winter time, throwing some snowballs at each other, building snow forts. Anything that involves physical battle or sports in the back yard was pretty fun.
Favorite way to spend time on the road: Playing some sewey (sewerball, or two-touch: a “keep-it-up” soccer game) or Xbox with the guys.
In a tournament with such a young age cut-off, having players with experience can be a great benefit for teams. Seven players here in Germany were members of last year’s Under-18 Men’s National Team, the most "underagers" ever for the U.S. at a U18 World Championship.
One returner is left-handed defenseman, Lane Hutson (North Barrington, Ill.), who produced five assists in five games last year and was named one of Team USA’s three best players at the conclusion of the tournament. He acknowledged that having been through the process already has instilled some extra confidence coming to Germany.
“It helps our team a lot having the guys who played last year,” he said. “We know what to expect, the flow of the tournament and how we need to start strong and be good right off the bat so we can carry momentum.”
Hutson, who stands 5-foot-9 and 148 pounds, knows the tournament is a lengthy process, and it’s imperative to keep climbing throughout to peak at the right time.
“We all feel pretty good. We’re excited and ready to get into the games. We’re looking to stay sharp and get a little bit better every day so we can spring ourselves into the start of the tournament.”
The Boston University commit sees one specific area where this year’s team can excel.
“Our speed. We need to use our team speed, it’s hard for opposing teams to handle. We just have to turn on the jets and keep buzzing.”
After another day of practice tomorrow, Team USA will enter it’s pre-tournament games with matchups against Finland on Monday (April 18) and Sweden on Tuesday (April 19), before starting round-robin play with Canada next Saturday (April 23).
Three people you'd want at your dinner table: Michael Jordan, Patrick Kane and Wayne Gretzky. They're all special at their sports and I'd love to learn from them.
Describe your game to somebody watching you: I think I’m a two-way defenseman who knows his defensive responsibilities, but can help contribute offensively.
Favorite team and player growing up: My favorite hockey team was the Chicago Blackhawks and my favorite player was Patrick Kane.
Best moment in your hockey career: Making the National Team Development Program and being a part of a really special group.
Hutson at the 2021 IIHF U18 Men's World Championship
It's been a long 36-hour venture for the U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team, but the process ended where the team is most comfortable - on the ice.
A quick, 60-minute evening skate ended the team's first night in Landshut, Germany, a city it will call home for the next 17 days.
Practice today had a specific objective. After two flights, including an overnight venture from Atlanta to Munich, and limited sleep in the form of short naps, the focus was on speed and energy.
Assistant coach Brian Galivan (Chicago, Ill.) led the team through off-ice stretching and mobility to get the blood flowing. The practice slate, mainly high-tempo, short-area games and breakaway drills, were all in an effort to move the feet and loosen the limbs. The harder the work tonight, the easier it will be to get to game speed for the next two days of practice.
The voyage started at USA Hockey Arena on Thursday morning with a bus ride to Detroit Metro Airport. A quicker flight to Atlanta included a short layover to get some sustenance before the longer leg of the trip to Europe. After getting through German customs and collecting all 85 checked bags, including player equipment, training, medical and personal luggage, it was off to Fanatec Arena to drop luggage. A quick walk around the arena was all that was needed before heading to the hotel for a quick nap, dinner and back to the rink for practice.
Through the toughest travel of the trip, all signs now point forward. After a night of what will be some of the easiest sleep we will see all trip, it's time to get back into the routine for Day 2 tomorrow.