MARQUETTE, Mich. - The U.S. National Under-18 Team scored three unanswered goals to end the game, but could not complete the comeback in a 5-3 loss to the Northern Michigan Wildcats Friday evening at Berry Events Center.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play, the first marker coming from Alex Frye at 8:25 of the first period.
David Keefer made it two in a row for the host team as he connected on his first of the season less than four minutes later. Mitch Vanderbeck converted on a Wildcats power play to push the lead to 3-0 with less than four minutes to play in the first.
Vanderbeck netted a second PPG at 4:06 of the middle period for the only goal of the game's middle frame to extend the NMU lead to 4-0.
After a Wildcats' goal from Connor Marritt, Marek Hejduk (Parker, Colo.) put Team USA on the board at 12:14 of the final frame. The goal was Hejduk's third in the past four games and was set up by Maddox Fleming (Rochester, Minn.), who collected his fourth point of the season.
Logan Cooley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) followed with his fourth goal of the season, all within the past three games, to bring the score to 5-2 with 3:34 to play in regulation. Isaac Howard (Hudson, Wis.) and Seamus Powell (Marcellus, N.Y.) collected helpers on the goal.
Team USA attacked again and made it 5-3 off the blade of Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz.) just over two minutes later. Gauthier's fifth of the year was assisted by Jimmy Snuggerud (Chaska, Minn.) and Seamus Casey (Fort Myers, Fla.).
The U18s pulled Tyler Muszelik (Long Valley, N.J.) for an extra attacker for the final 75 seconds, but could not muster another tally to cut the deficit.
Dylan Silverstein (Calabasas, Calif.) started in net for Team USA and made nine saves before Muszelik stopped 16 of 17 he saw in relief.
The Under-18 Team outshot the Wildcats by a 44-30 final margin.
The U18s are back in action tomorrow night as they continue their Kroger College Series and take on the Michigan Tech Huskies. Puck drop is set for 6:00 p.m. ET in Houghton, Michigan.