PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz.) provided the heroics in a shootout Friday night at USA Hockey Arena, scoring to lift the U.S. National Under-17 Team to a 5-4 victory over the Youngstown Phantoms.
Team USA got on the board first after Cruz Lucius (Grant, Minn.) poked the puck free on the penalty kill and fed a pass to Logan Cooley (West Mifflin, Pa.) who backhanded a shot past Youngstown goalie Kyle Chauvette to tally the U17s' third shorthanded goal of the season.
Moments later, Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) beat Chauvette stick-side on a penalty shot to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead.
The Phantoms stormed back to tie the game late in the opening period, but Charlie Stramel (Rosemount, Minn.) stole the puck away from a Youngstown defender in the offensive zone and found Gauthier who fired a sharp-angle shot past Chauvette to regain the lead heading into the first intermission.
After a scoreless middle frame, Ryan Chesley (Mahtomedi, Minn.) made it a 4-2 game on the power play early in the final period, taking a pass from Cooley at the top of the left circle and firing a shot past Chauvette for his eighth goal of the season.
The Phantoms tied the game once again with a pair of back-to-back goals, and despite a pair of quality chances in the final minutes of the period, could not secure a win in regulation.
After a scoreless overtime period, Gauthier netted the winning goal in a penalty shootout to lift Team USA.
U.S. goaltender Tyler Muszelik (Long Valley, N.J.) made 30 stops in the victory, and stopped all three penalty shots he faced in the shootout.
The U17s return to the ice Saturday at USA Hockey Arena when they take on the Phantoms in the series finale between the two teams. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m. ET and can be watched live on HockeyTV.com.