PLYMOUTH, Mich. – A three-goal second period and a four-point effort from Devin Kaplan (Bridgewater, N.J.) helped the U.S. National Under-17 Team to a thrilling 7-5 victory over the Chicago Steel Friday night at USA Hockey Arena.
The U.S. took a 1-0 lead when Lane Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) picked up a loose puck at the defensive blue and skated into the offensive zone before finding Cruz Lucius (Grant, Minn.) who fed a pass to an open Logan Cooley (West Mifflin, Pa.) who was waiting at the back door to bury the puck.
Chicago responded with a goal of their own to even the score at 1-1 with 7:50 to go in the first period, but Seamus Casey (Estero, Fla.), celebrating his 17th birthday, put away a shot in a scramble in front of the Steel net to regain the lead for the U.S.
The Steel scored a pair of quick goals to take a 3-2 lead into the first intermission, but the U.S. came out swinging in the second stanza, and Marek Hejduk (Parker, Colo.) picked up a rebound from Charlie Leddy's (Fairfield, Conn.) shot in the crease and notched a wraparound tally to tie the game once again.
Charlie Stramel (Rosemount, Minn.) tapped in a loose puck in the crease to extend the lead to 4-3, but Chicago once again had the answer.
Ryan Chesley (Mahtomedi, Minn.) broke the 4-4 tie with 1:46 to play in the middle frame, ringing a shot from the blue line off the pipe and into the Chicago net to give Team USA a 5-4 lead. The 6-0 defenseman leads all U.S. blue liners with seven goals, 13 assists and 20 points in 18 games.
Kaplan finished a coast-to-coast rush with a wraparound tally early in the third period to give the U.S. a two-goal lead for the first time in the game, and after Chicago capitalized on a 6-on-5 advantage, the forward put away an empty-net goal to secure a 7-5 victory for the U17s.
Dylan Silverstein (Calabasas, Calif.) and Tyler Muszelik (Long Valley, N.J.) combined for 29 saves in the win.
The U.S. returns to the ice Saturday to take on the Steel in their series finale. Puck drop at USA Hockey Arena is slated for 7 p.m. ET. A limited number of tickets are available, and can be purchased by visiting usahockeyntdp.com/tix or by calling the box office at 734-453-6400 x 396.