The best under-18 hockey players in the country are coming to southern Minnesota next week.

The Austin Bruins announced this morning that the U.S. National Team Development Program U18 team will face the Bruins in a preseason matinee at 1:05 p.m. Monday at Riverside Arena.

Tickets are available only to season ticket holders and Bruins billet families.

“We’re excited to host the US National Development Team, here in Austin,” said Bruins Head Coach Steve Howard. “It’ll be great for our guys to share the ice and play against the nation’s top junior players.”

The USNTDP, based in Plymouth, Michigan, was started in 1996 by USA Hockey as a way to identify elite players under the age of 18, and centralize their training. The program includes two teams each year, a U18 team and a U17 team.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Rochester native Maddox Fleming, who is committed to Notre Dame, is playing for the U17 team this fall and will likely play for the U18s in 2021-22 before going to Notre Dame.

Nineteen of the 23 players on the USNTDP U18 team have committed to Division I schools. Two Minnesotans are on the team, Notre Dame commit Justin Janicke of Maple Grove, and University of Minnesota commit Chaz Lucius, from Grant (near Stillwater).

During last season’s NHL Draft, the USNTDP saw a record 17 players get selected, including first-overall pick Jack Hughes, and seven others in the first round.

Austin will also host preseason games against the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL, on Oct. 9 and 10.

The Bruins' regular-season schedule is set to begin Oct. 30-31 at Aberdeen. Austin's home opener is Nov. 7 against the Minnesota Wilderness.