ERIE, Pa. - Logan Cooley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) scored his seventh goal in six games but the U.S. National Under-18 Team fell to the Mercyhurst Lakers, 7-3, Sunday evening at Mercyhurst Ice Arena.
USA forward Marek Hejduk (Parker, Colo.) opened the scoring when he converted in front of the Lakers cage for his sixth goal of the season. Ryan Chesley (Mahtomedi, Minn.) entered the zone and feathered a pass for Brennan Ali (Glencoe, Ill.), who went cross-crease where Hejduk tapped in on the other end for a 1-0 lead.
Mercyhurst tied the game with 4:56 to play in the first when Rylee St. Onge netted his shot off a 3-on-1 rush and the Lakers took a 2-1 lead late in the period off the stick of senior forward Steven Ipri.
Less than three minutes into the middle frame, Jonathan Bendorf scored off a second-chance opportunity on a Mercyhurst power play to extend the lead to 3-1.
Lane Hutson (North Barrington, Ill.) brought Team USA within a goal at 7:31 of the middle frame with his first marker of the year. Cooley entered the offensive zone and found Hutson alone on the left wing where he ripped a wrister by Hank Johnson to bring the game to 3-2. Devin Kaplan (Bridgewater, N.J.) picked up the secondary assist on the goal.
Bender netted his second of the evening less than a minute later to restore the Lakers advantage to a pair of goals.
After the Lakers scored early in the third, Cooley connected shorthanded for his seventh goal of the season, all within the team's last six games. Cooley was interefered with while applying the forecheck and Hejduk was first to the loose puck. He slid a pass back to Cooley who went bar-down while Team USA was down a man to make the score 6-3, giving both skaters multi-point efforts on the night.
Mercyhurst added an empty-net goal late in regulation for the 7-3 final.
Tyler Muszelik (Long Valley, N.J.) started in net for Team USA and was relieved by Dylan Silverstein (Calabasas, Calif.) midway through the second period.
The U18s return to USA Hockey Arena for a pair of games next weekend against the USHL-leading Chicago Steel on Friday and Saturday evenings. Tickets are available at USAHockeyNTDP.com/tix or by calling the USA Hockey Arena box office at 734-453-6400 x396.