The United States Under-18 Men's Select Team opens play at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup tonight at 7 p.m. MT (9 p.m. ET) against the Czech Republic. HockeyTV will provide live streaming of the game from Servus Arena in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.
Tonight’s Opponent: Czechia
Team USA is 2-3 (W-L) in its last five meetings with Czechia at the Hlinka Tournament. In 2017, the teams met in preliminary-round play with the Czechs winning 7-3. In 2016, the teams met twice, with Team USA skating to a 4-2 win in pool play before falling 4-3 to Czechia in the Hlinka Cup championship game. In 2015, the U.S. closed Hlinka Cup play with a 4-3 win over the Czechs. In 2014, Czechia skated to a 4-2 win over the U.S. in pool play.
The Czech Republic finished second at last year’s Hlinka Cup and first in 2016, the country’s most successful two-year run at the event since consecutive runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2005.
The U.S. and Czechia are tied for the third-most top-three finishes at the Hlinka Tournament with 13 each.
The U.S. will play in a fiercely competitive Pool B this week with Czechia, Russia and Finland.
Team USA competed in one exhibition game prior to the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, a 10-4 victory over Slovakia on Saturday in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada. Nicholas Robertson (Northville, Mich.) led all skaters with four points (2G, 2A). In all, 13 players recorded points for the U.S.
Back in North America
The Hlinka Tournament hasn’t been played on North American soil since 1996, when it was known as the Pacific Cup and hosted in Nelson and Castlegar, British Columbia, Canada. The U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team skated to a second-place finish at the event, paced by 10 points (4G, 6A) from Erik Westrum (Apple Valley, Minn.), who would go on to star at the University of Minnesota before playing in the NHL with the Phoenix Coyotes, Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs. Westrum also helped the U.S. Men’s National Team claim a bronze medal at the 2004 IIHF Men’s World Championship, scoring the game-winning goal in a shootout against Slovakia.
Among the other members of the 1996 U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team was Brian Gionta, who served as captain of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, as well as future NHLers Scott Gomez, John Pohl, Paul Mara and Mike Pandolfo.
U.S. Olympian Mark Kumpel (Wakefield, Mass.) served on the 1996 team’s coaching staff and he’s serving as team leader for the 2018 U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team.
Laylin Leading the Way
Cory Laylin (St. Cloud, Minn.) is the head coach of the 2018 U.S. Under-18 Men's Select Team after serving as an assistant coach at the 2017 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. In 2016, he guided the U.S. Under-17 Men’s Select Team as head coach to an undefeated championship at the 2016 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament. Prior to that, Laylin served as an assistant coach for the the Under-17 Men's Select Team that won first place at the 2015 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament. Laylin, who is head coach of the men’s hockey team at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, is joined on the U.S. coaching staff by assistant coaches Pat Ferschweiler (Rochester, Minn.), Shane Connelly (Cheltenham, Pa.) and Joe Bonnett (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Pat Boller (Danbury, Conn.) is serving as the team’s video coach.
Nine Back for Another Tour
Nine of the 20 skaters on the U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team competed in the 2017 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament with Team USA. John Farinacci (Chatham, N.J.), Josh Groll (San Diego, Calif.), Arthur Kaliyev (Delray Beach, Fla.), Mike Koster (Chaska, Minn.), Robert Mastrosimone (East Islip, N.Y.), Mitchell Miller (Sylvania, Ohio), Josh Nodler (Oak Park, Mich.), Grant Silianoff (Edina, Minn.) and Cade Webber (Meadville, Pa.) helped lead the U.S. squad to an undefeated 4-0-0 record and first place at the tournament.
Farinacci, captain of the 2018 U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team, recorded two goals and two assists in four Five Nations games while Silianoff led all U.S. skaters with seven points (4G, 3A). Team USA outscored its opponents 26-5 over the four contests played in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
USA Hockey Player Development Camps
The 2018 U.S. Under-18 Men's Select Team was chosen from players skating at USA Hockey's 2018 Boys Select 17 Player Development Camp in Amherst, New York. The USA Hockey National Player Development Camps for 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds provide the nation’s top young players with age-appropriate on- and off-ice training and coaching from elite-level instructors, as well as the opportunity to compete against their peers from throughout the country. Players earn invitations to the national camps through their performance at a series of state- and district-level camps held each season. The camps are designed so players return home afterward with the tools to further develop their skills over the course of the coming season and beyond. Since their launch in 1977, USA Hockey’s National Player Development Camps have been a springboard for countless future Olympians and professional players.
|Sat., Aug. 4||Slovakia||Exhibition||W, 10-4||Nexsource Arena
Sylvan Lake, Alta.
|Mon., Aug. 6||Czech Republic||Preliminary||W, 6-0||Servus Arena
Red Deer, Alta.
|Tues., Aug. 7||Finland||Preliminary||W, 6-2||Servus Arena
Red Deer, Alta.
|Wed., Aug. 8||Russia||Preliminary||L, 3-8||Servus Arena
Red Deer, Alta.
|Fri., Aug. 10||Canada||Semifinals||OTL, 5-6||Rogers Place
|Sat., Aug. 11||Russia||Third-Place Game||L, 4-5||Rogers Place