Photo by Michael Caples/MiHockey

Team USA finishes third in group in U18 Worlds prelims, now set for quarterfinals

UPDATE: Team USA will be play Russia in the 2018 IIHF UNder-18 World Championship quarterfinals Thursday at 10:30 a.m. ET.


By @MichaelCaples –

Just gotta win when it counts, right?

At the moment, Team USA is waiting for the Russia vs. Slovakia game winner to find out who they will play next.

Said opponent will take on the U.S. National Under-18 Team in the quarterfinals of the 2018 IIHF Under-18 World Championship. That game will be played on Thursday.

In the tournament that serves as the culmination – the final test – of the two-year National Team Development Program experience for the majority of the U18 team roster, it’s win-or-go-home in an event that hasn’t gone as planned so far.

Team USA won their Tuesday game against Belarus in a convincing 8-0 fashion to secure third place in their group heading into the quarterfinals.

Third place, of course, is not where they want to be. The Americans will likely face Russia in the quarterfinals, and that’s the result of two losses – a 6-4 battle with Canada to open the tournament, and a 3-1 final against Sweden two days later.

Canada holds the top spot in Group A, while Sweden holds the No. 2 spot. The Americans are in third, while Belarus in fourth, and Switzerland is fifth.

Following the Belarus game, head coach Seth Appert said his team’s moving in the right direction.

“We gained confidence not only because we won, but we won the right way,” said Appert, the bench boss of the NTDP Under-18 Team in Plymouth. “We didn’t cheat the game, we played well defensively and we kept on the gas pedal into the second and third periods even after getting an early lead. We’re excited for the challenge of the quarterfinals, whoever we face because each team that makes it earned their way to that spot.”

Team USA’s other win in the tournament came against Switzerland – the U.S. won 8-5.

They will be facing stiffer competition Thursday.

“The playoffs start now and our season’s on the line,” said Oliver Wahlstrom, a NTDP Under-18 Team forward who has logged four goals in four games.

He and Jack Hughes are leading the scoring push for the Americans; Hughes, a 16-year-old, is second in the tournament with nine points in four games.

Stay tuned for who the Americans will face in the quarters…