MUSKEGON, Mich. – A four-goal second period by the Muskegon Lumberjacks doomed the U.S. National Under-17 Team to a 9-4 setback Friday night at Mercy Health Arena.
Despite falling behind by a pair of goals in the first period, the U.S. stormed back with a trio of tallies to take a 3-2 lead.
Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) got the U17s on the scoresheet with 9:33 to remaining in the period after Lane Hutson's (Barrington, Ill.) cross-ice feed cut the defense and found McGroarty at the blue zone who then fired a shot past Muskegon netminder Nate Reid to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Just 37 seconds later, Cruz Lucius (Grant, Minn.) stole the puck from a Lumberjacks defender in the offensive zone and slotted a pass to Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz.) who beat Reid stick-side from close range to even the score at 2-2.
Frank Nazar III (Mt. Clemens, Mich.) gave the U.S. the lead 33 seconds later, potting a pass from Isaac Howard (Hudson, Wis.) on a breakout play to make it a 3-2 game.
The Lumberjacks rallied to knot things up late in the opening frame, and the U.S. settle for a 3-3 tie heading into the first break.
Despite a few quality chances, the U17s allowed four goals in the middle stanza, falling behind 7-3 with 20 minutes remaining in regulation.
The Lumberjacks tacked on a pair of goals to earn a 9-3 advantage before Devin Kaplan (Bridgewater, N.J.) cut into the lead with his 11th tally of the season. Charlie Stramel (Rosemount, Minn.) carried the puck deep into the offensive zone before finding an unmarked Kaplan streaking down the ice who banged home a one-time.
Tyler Muszelik (Long Valley, N.J.) and Dylan Silverstein (Calabasas, Calif.) each saw time in the net for the U.S., combining for 31 saves in the loss.
The U17s return to action Saturday as they take on the Lumberjacks in the series finale between the two teams. Puck drop is slated for 7:10 p.m. ET and can be watched live on HockeyTV.com.