The U.S. fell just short at the 2022 Athletix Under-17 Five Nations Tournament at Ed Robson Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.
However, the second-place finish didn’t diminish the overall tournament accomplishments of the group for Dan Jablonic (Milwaukee, Wis.), head coach of the U.S. Under-17 Select Team.
“We talked about it with the kids and it was such an honor and privilege for everyone in that room and the staff to represent the United States,” Jablonic said. “There’s been a nice precedent set and USA Hockey is one of the world leaders when it comes to hockey. Coming in, we had high expectations. We were really proud of the way the kids competed all tournament long.”
The U.S. rolled through the first three games of the tournament, outscoring the opposition by a 23-5 margin before a defeat against Czechia in the deciding contest on Saturday. The U.S. topped Germany 10-1 in the opener and pulled away with a pair of third-period goals during a 5-2 win against Switzerland. The Americans picked up another lopsided win, 8-2, against Slovakia prior to the loss against Czechia.
Head coach Dan Jablonic speaks to the team between whistles during the championship game.
“They got out to a quick start, but we matched it,” Jablonic said. “Towards the end of the second, we gained momentum and played the way we wanted to play.”
The U.S. outshot the opposition 39-37 but suffered a 6-4 defeat against Czechia. The Czechs led by a goal through the first period and pulled away for a 5-2 lead through two, as they outscored the U.S. 3-1 in the second. The U.S. netted the next two, pulling within a goal, but couldn’t land the equalizer, as Czechia scored an empty-net goal to seal the win.
“Obviously, clawing back when you go in a hole like that against a really good Czechia team was a challenge, but credit to the kids for continuing to battle,” Jablonic said. “Everybody on that bench felt we were really close and we were one tip away from tying the game, but that’s hockey. We came up short, but credit to Czechia because they played a really good game.”
The U.S. Under-17 Select Team was comprised of players selected from the USA Hockey Boys’ Select 16 Player Development Camp, which took place this past summer in Amherst, N.Y. The development camp, in addition to picking the select team, also provided participants with elite-level instruction, as well as the opportunity to compete at the national level against other players in their age group.
Jablonic admitted that it was a disappointing result and a tough way to finish the tournament for the 20 teenagers representing their country in international competition for the first time. But he knows the sting of defeat will eventually wear off. Since the Five Nations Tournament started in 2007, the U.S. has captured titles at eight competitions to go along with five second-place finishes, including most recently this past weekend against Czechia.
“The future is really bright,” Jablonic said. “We had 20 highly skilled players come in, compete, do everything we ask and commit to the USA style of play. We came up short, but the future is really bright for USA Hockey and these 20 young men. I’m really excited to see where they go and how they move on from here.”
This year’s tournament was the first to take place in the United States since 2016 and the third time overall it has been held in America since 2007.
The tournament was held in Colorado Springs at the Ed Robson Arena, home of the Colorado College Tigers. The arena is about a 15-minute drive from the USA Hockey headquarters in Colorado Springs.
“It was fantastic just to see the local support, play our games on home soil and have the support of family members who got to come out and watch them play,” Jablonic said. “It was definitely a great experience to feel at home.”
Jablonic said the players also had an opportunity to travel about an hour away to Pikes Peak, ride the Cog Railway and climb to the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.
“It was a nice message in hockey and life that you have to keep working and enjoy the experience at every level you’re at,” Jablonic said. “It was a disappointing result, but at the same time the overall experience was key for the kids. We’ll keep working, the kids will learn for the next time if they earn the right to represent the U.S., they can remember the sting of coming up short and work that much harder to make sure that USA is back on top again.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.