GREEN BAY, Wis. – The U.S. National Under-17 Team suffered a 6-3 setback to the Green Bay Gamblers in their first contest back following the holiday break Wednesday night at the Resch Center.
Isaac Howard (Hudson, Wis.) netted his team-leading 15th and 16th goals in the loss.
The Gamblers raced out to a sizable lead in the first period, scoring 1:10 into the frame before adding a pair of tallies late to take a 3-0 advantage into intermission.
The U.S. broke through in the second period when Lane Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) found the back of the net, collecting a pass from Marek Hejduk (Parker, Colo.) at the blue line and firing the puck past Green Bay goaltender Matt Davis to make it a 3-1 game.
The Gamblers quickly responded to go up 4-1, but Howard cut the lead with 3:01 remaining in the middle frame to pull the U.S. within in a pair of goals. Frank Nazar III (Mount Clemens, Mich.) won the face off and quickly fed a pass from behind the net to Howard who buried a shot from close range.
In the final stanza, Green Bay found the back of the net to stretch the lead to 5-2, but Nazar III forced a turnover behind the Gamblers net and Howard fired the loose puck past Davis to keep Team USA's comeback effort alive.
The U.S. pulled goaltender Tyler Muszelik (Long Valley, N.J.) with under two minutes to play in regulation to capitalize on the man-advantage, but the Gamblers notched an empty-netter to take a 6-3 lead and put the game out of reach.
Muszelik ended the night with a career-high 44 saves for the U.S.
The U17s return to the ice Thursday for the series finale against the Gamblers. Puck drop at the Resch Center is slated for 7:05 p.m. ET and can be streamed live on HockeyTV.com.
Following their series against Green Bay, the U17s head home to USA Hockey Arena Saturday to host the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Tickets for Saturday's contest are available by visiting usahockeyntdp.com/tix or by calling 734-453-6400 x 396.