Spartans Ready to Take on US U-18 Team Friday Night

After suffering a difficult 2-1 defeat to Michigan in the Great Lakes Invitational, the Spartans will kick off the second half of the season with an exhibition game against the United States National Under-18 team Friday night.

The USNTDP U-18 team plays in the United States Hockey League and comes into Friday’s contest losing four of the last seven games. However, they will be getting back Auston Matthews, who represented the United States in the recent World Junior Championship in Canada.

The team boasts a high-powered offense with three players, Matthews, Matthew Tkachuk and Jeremy Bracco, who each average more than a point per game — with Matthews averaging a hair below two points per game, with 24 goals and 25 assists in 27 outings.

Through 33 games, the team averages 4.76 goals per game.

Luke Opilka and Michael Lackey have split time in net. Each have appeared in close to 20 games. Both also have similar numbers with goals-against averages north of three and save percentages south of .885.

The team scores a lot, but also is not exactly a defensive juggernaut either.

As for the Spartans, two of the last three games have resulted in wins, but they will face a different animal in the USNTDP. The defense needs to be strong if the Spartans are going to contain the U-18 team’s offense.

The Spartans dropped the last meeting between these two 4-3 in overtime back in March of 2014.

Brian Bobal is the co-host of Behind the Mask for Impact Sports

Photo: Brian Bobal/Impact Sports