Picks For Puck Drop
Posted March 29th, 2022
WHH Predictions For Pool Play At 2022 USA Hockey Nationals
We’ve been ranking them and debating them all season long, but it’s finally time for the teams to settle things themselves.
The 2022 USA Hockey National Championships for the 14U, 15-Only and 16U Tier-I age groups officially begins on Wednesday, as American hockey’s best teams come together with the ultimate bragging rights on the line.
The 14U age group will play out in Chicago, while the 15-Only’s are at USA Hockey Arena (home of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program) in Plymouth, Mich., and the 16U division is just northeast of the 15s in Rochester, Mich.
We've got expert picks and analysis from the three major age groups, and everything you need to know to get ready for puck drop tomorrow.
14U Division - Chicago, Illinois
Last year, Shattuck-St. Mary’s completed an almost perfect season, compiling a 45-1-2 record en route to the 14U national title. Things could play out the same way this year, as they storm into Chicago with a 46-5-1 record, and the No. 1 spot in the World Hockey Hub’s rankings.
Shattuck will start tournament play in the USA Division; the 16 teams competing for the national title are split into four groups. The other three teams in the USA bunch are the Nashville Jr. Predators, the WHH U.S. ranked No. 7 Los Angeles Jr. Kings and the No. 10 Northeast Wisconsin Jr. Gamblers.
After dominating the Central District’s tournament to earn a nationals bid with wins over Chicago Mission (more on them later), CarShield and Omaha Mastery, we like the Gamblers’ chances to join Shattuck in advancing to the elimination rounds later this week.
In the Liberty Division, No. 3 Little Caesars and No. 5 Mount St. Charles will need to take care of business against the Dallas Stars Elite and Philadelphia Flyers, and expect the top two to take care of business.
From the Olympic Division, the safe money is on the No. 4-ranked Pittsburgh Penguins Elite and No. 8-ranked Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers. They better keep their focus though, as Team North Dakota is relatively unknown coming out of the Northern Plains District — MyHockeyRankings has them only at 9-10-1 on the season — and Compuware took down No. 1 Shattuck in February.
And in the NHL Division, the team competing with Shattuck for the top spot all season — Chicago Mission — will be joined by the No. 9-ranked Bishop Kearney Selects in trying to advance to the postseason against the California Golden Bears and the Boston Jr. Eagles.
Pool-play advancement predictions: Shattuck St. Mary’s, Northeast Wisconsin Jr. Gamblers, Little Caesars, Mount St. Charles, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers, Chicago Mission, Bishop Kearney Selects
Predicted champs: Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Darkhorse to watch: Northeast Wisconsin Jr. Gamblers
15O Division - Plymouth, Michigan
The eyes of the junior scouting world will be on Plymouth this week, as the 2006 birth-year competes for a national title before the junior league drafts take place.
Mount St. Charles, the No. 1 ranked team by WHH, headlines a USA Division that also features the Sioux Falls Power, the No. 9 Team Alaska and the No. 7 Windy City Storm. It’s the only division featuring three teams on the WHH U.S. rankings, which means that the favorite has its hands full. Team Alaska is used to traveling, and they have racked up wins against some of the top teams in the country over the year. We like them to turn some heads this week.
In the Olympic Division, No. 2 Shattuck-St. Mary’s has No. 4 Chicago Mission, the North Jersey Avalanche and Minuteman Flames. A Shattuck vs. Mission showdown in the preliminary round? Sign us up.
The NHL Division has No. 5 Bishop Kearney, No. 6 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, the St. Louis AAA Blues and the Los Angeles Jr. Kings — a deep cross-country group that may beat each other up too much before the playoffs start.
Last but not least is the Liberty Division, with No. 3 Little Caesars, No. 8 Cleveland Barons, Dallas Stars Elite and the Nashville Jr. Predators. Between the grouping and the fact that they’re skating on as close to home ice as most programs could get for nationals. Little Caesars could go on to enjoy some home cooking. Plus, head coach Jason Deskins knows what it takes, considering he was the head coach of last year’s 15O national champions at HoneyBaked.
Pool-play advancement predictions: Mount St. Charles, Team Alaska, Shattuck St. Mary’s, Chicago Mission, Bishop Kearney, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, Little Caesars, Dallas Stars Elite
Predicted champs: Little Caesars
Darkhorse to watch: Team Alaska
16U Division - Rochester, Michigan
There’s a lot to like in the 16U age group, especially up at the top. The Shattuck-St. Mary’s team has been a force all season, but they’ve got some steep competition ready to challenge them in Metro Detroit, as early as their preliminary-round grouping.
There, SSM faces No. 5 Mount St. Charles, the No. 9 New Jersey Rockets and an Anaheim Jr. Ducks squad that’s been making a case for a higher ranking all year, too, having just 12 losses on the season.
In the Liberty Division, No. 3 Compuware will try to capitalize on being able to sleep in their own beds, while they deal with a No. 6 North Jersey Avalanche squad that won a Eastside Elite Top 20 Challenge title last time they were hanging out in Michigan, as well as Culver Academy and Florida Alliance.
The USA Division features the No. 2 Long Island Gulls, No. 8 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, Sioux Falls Power and Chicago Mission. The Gulls have 51 wins on the season, and the last time they saw the Baby Pens, they beat them by a combined 10-0 over two games.
Rounding things out is the NHL Division, which features the No. 4 Boston Jr. Eagles, No. 7 Bishop Kearney Selects, Yale Jr. Bulldogs and Phoenix Jr. Coyotes. The BK vs. Eagles game should be a dandy, as they are ranked No. 4 and No. 5 by MyHockeyRankings.
Pool-play advancement predictions: Shattuck St. Mary’s, Mount St. Charles, Compuware, North Jersey Avalanche, Long Island Gulls, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, Boston Jr. Eagles, Bishop Kearney Selects
Predicted champs: Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Darkhorse to watch: North Jersey Avalanche
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