USA Hockey announced the roster and schedule for its 2007-08 U.S. National Under-17 Team today. The 21 new student-athletes, part of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, will play a 61-game slate that includes 44 games versus North American Hockey League opponents. Highlighting the 2007-08 schedule are three international events, most notably the return to the World Under-17 Challenge.
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"We are looking forward to representing our country in international play this season, especially at the World Under-17 Challenge, where our players will have the opportunity to measure themselves against the top players in their age group from around the world," said Ron Rolston, who will serve as head coach for the U.S. National Under-17 Team. "The NAHL schedule has helped our players develop by putting them in a tough environment to play night in and night out. The league has continued to improve and will challenge our club to improve as a team."
Rolston, in his fourth season at the National Team Development Program, will be joined by second-year assistant coach, Chadd Cassidy. In 2006, Rolston guided the U.S. National Under-17 Team to a second-place finish at the 10-team World Under-17 Challenge in Regina, Sask.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team will begin the 2007-08 campaign at home on Friday, Sept. 14, against the defending NAHL Robertson Cup champion St. Louis Bandits. Along with the NTDP and the Bandits, the North Division of the NAHL will be comprised of the Alpena (Mich.) IceDiggers, Mahoning Valley (Ohio) Phantoms, Traverse City (Mich.) North Stars and the Marquette (Mich.) Rangers.
The team's first international competition will come Nov. 7-11, when it travels to Russia for a Four Nations Tournament. The round-robin event will also include Germany, Russia and Switzerland.
December will include a stretch of six road games, culminating in Boardman, Ohio, (Dec. 22-23) with a pair of games against Mahoning Valley. The team will compete in the World Under-17 Challenge, Dec. 28-Jan. 4, in London, Ont.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team will venture off American soil for the third time in February when it travels to Piestany, Slovakia, to compete in the annual Vlad Dzurilla Classic (Feb. 6-11). Team USA will face Under-18 squads from Slovakia, Germany and Switzerland in the event.
Following the tournament, the U.S. National Under-17 Team will return to the United States to complete its NAHL regular-season schedule with 11 games versus North Division opponents. Included in the stretch run are seven straight road games to close the season.
NOTES: The 2007-08 U.S. National Under-17 Team is composed of 21 players from 10 different states, including two from Alaska. Michigan is this year's leader in producing new NTDP players with six, while New York has four players … Two U.S. Under-17 Team players are the sons of former National Hockey League defensemen. Bjorn Krupp's (Atlanta, Ga.) father, Uwe, who concluded his career in 2002-03 with the Atlanta Thrashers, played in 729 career NHL games. Ryan Bourque's (Boston, Mass.) father is Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, who played 1,612 NHL games for the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche … Forward Jeremy Morin (Auburn, N.Y.) joins his brother, Chad (2003-05), as the first sibling pair to play at the NTDP. Chad, a defenseman, recorded 26 points (9-17) in 131 games at the NTDP and also played under Rolston at the NTDP during the 2004-05 season … Team USA netminder Adam Murray (Anchorage, Alaska) played 13 games with the U.S. National Under-17 Team during the 2006-07 season, posting an 8-5-0 mark with one shutout and a .925 save percentage.
ABOUT THE NTDP: Founded in 1996, USA Hockey's National Team Development Program was created to prepare student-athletes under the age of 18 for participation on U.S. National Teams and success in their future hockey careers. Its efforts focus not only on high-caliber participation on the ice, but creating well-rounded individuals off the ice. Located in Ann Arbor, Mich., the 46 players in the program are split into two squads - the U.S. National Under-18 and Under-17 Teams. In the nine years NTDP players have been eligible for the draft, 141 players have been selected, including the number one overall selection in 2000 (Rick DiPietro), 2006 (Erik Johnson) and 2007 (Patrick Kane).