Has anyone been able to catch any games? Some first hand reports would be nice. The U18 team looks to be off to a very solid start. They're 12 and 4 including two close OT losses to Michigan and Boston College. James van Riemsdyk has really exploded in the past week or two and now has 14 goals and 23 points in 16 games. He's scored 9 goals in the past 4 games. Colin Wilson and Ryan Hayes are also scoring at better than a point-per-game rate while Jimmy Hayes, Matt Rust and John Albert are close behind. Wilson and Jimmy Hayes seem like exciting prospects for '08. CJ Severyn is also doing fairly well on the score sheet considering I've always heard that the strengths of his game are physical play and energy. The one clear dissapointment with the forwards so far has to be Mike Hoeffel. He's gotten a lot of hype, particularly from Redline Report and so far he only has 7 point in 16 games. He's always seemed to have problems with consistancy and it's a big jump from high school to the NTDP so maybe he's just going to need more time to adjust. The "project" forwards (Vaive, Schnell, Manley, Cieslak) really haven't paid any dividends either it seems. The defense seems to be adding a lot of scoring as well. Kevin Shattenkirk, Teddy Ruth, and Cade Fairchild are all close to a point-per-game pace which is unusual for an NTDP team. Shattenkirk and Fairchild had very solid numbers last year so it's not a huge surprise but Ruth really must have added a serious amount to his offense over the summer as he's already equaled his point total from last year. If he still has the leadership, meanness and defensive smarts to go along with it he could be a riser for the draft. It's understandable that Fairchild doesn't get a lot of draft attention because of his size but what exactly does Shattenkirk have to do? In the past he's always been highly regarded but his name rarely gets much draft attention. Has his defensive play began to suffer? I expected that Brad Phillips would have better numbers in goal to be honest. I don't know how the defense is playing in front of him as that stuff obviously doesn't show up in the stats. Usually the U18 goalies dominate in NAHL play which pads thier stats but that hasn't been the case this year. Perhaps they're just not playing up to snuff against the lesser competition. I expect the team to sweep the tournament in Sweden that's coming up but I'm waiting to see if they'll dominate or just win. Sweden could be good but the Finns are way off this year and Switzerland is hard to take seriously (though if memory serves they did decent at the U18 World Cup this summer so perhaps I underestimate them). The U17 team is a completely different story so far. They only have 2 wins in thier first 11 games. Robbie Czarnik is supposed to be one of the best '90 born forwards in the US, if not the best, and he only has 2 points so far. Jordan Schroeder is another player who has been considered to be among the best and all 5 of his points came in the first four games. Justin Florek, Mike Cichy were both quite hyped and I don't think you could say they've met expectations. Danny Kristo and Vinny Saponari would not have been the forwards I expected to lead the team in scoring (8 points each). That's not to say the're not any good. I've just never heard anyone say that they're elite (though the hype on Kristo during the summer select festivals was fairly substantial). The fact that the supposed top forwards haven't lived up to thier hype hurts even more when you consider the depth at forward was never considered that good to begin with. The defense certainly hasn't contributed much to the scoring either though that's not a huge surprise to me as most of the d-men on the team are better known for thier defense. However, given the ammount of goals the team is letting up, it doesn't seem like they've been getting that done either. The goalies have been getting shelled in a way I can't remember happening in a long time. Maricic seems like he might be coming around but Clemente, a guy who was hyped as a potential top 10 pick in the OHL draft, has a GAA above 5 and a 0.82 save %. I don't know what to expect from the team in thier first international competition. In the past the Russians always seemed to have the number of US NTDP teams but the past three U17 teams have all managed to come away with wins when they faced them in this tournament. Perhaps this is the year the Russians can get some revenge. Then again, maybe this can be a turning point for this US team. Perhaps I'm coming down hard here but with the '88s and '89s I'd gotten used to being pleasantly surprised by a solid team that I had initially had very low expectations for. Many around here love to bill themselves as scouting gurus but I'm making this post as a fan. Any team wearing a USA jersey is my team and I want them to be the best. Again, if anyone has any info on what's actually taking place on the ice please share it here. If I were able I'd watch every game I could but it's just not possible.