The U.S. National Under-18 Team will look to improve on its silver medal finish at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship this year, while continuing a medal streak that dates back to 2004. The World Under-18 Championship will be held in Laapeenranta and Imatra, Finland, April 17-27.
The U.S. will bring a team to the tournament, as it does every year, comprised primarily of players from the National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor. Twenty of the 22 players come from the NTDP, in fact. The roster includes several top prospects for the 2014 and 2015 NHL Drafts. It is one of the most highly scouted events on the NHL Draft calendar.
You can follow along as well. FASTHockey.com will stream all of Team USA’s games live and free starting Thursday. Unfortunately, for the first time since 2010, I won’t be calling the games. I had to bow out due to increased responsibilities at CBSSports.com with the NHL playoffs, so I will greatly miss being there for one of my favorite events in hockey. The full broadcast schedule is at the end of this post.
The Under-18 Championship follows the same format as the World Junior Championship. It is a 10-team tournament this year featuring Canada, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark. Players eligible for this tournament were born in 1996 or later.
Team USA will play out of Group B, which includes the Swiss, Czechs, Danes and Finns.
Team USA will be led by head coach Danton Cole, who last guided the U.S. National Under-18 Team to gold at the 2012 World U18 Championship. He’ll bring a highly-skilled roster to Finland with a few key players from outside of the NTDP as well as a few called up from the Under-17 Team.
Coming up after the jump, a complete look at Team USA’s roster, the broadcast schedule and some brief thoughts on the team.