MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The U.S. National Under-18 Team got out to a 3-1 lead, but couldn't hold in an eventual 5-3 loss to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Monday night in Minnesota.
Team USA took an early 1-0 lead on a power-play tally from Frank Nazar (Mount Clemens, Mich.) 4:01 into the game. Nazar deflected a Gophers clearing attempt and the puck settled to Logan Cooley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) at the left wing. He returned the puck to Nazar who fired into the top right corner for his 12th goal of the season.
The Gophers evened the score with a man-advantage goal of their own at 6:21 of the second. Ben Meyers took a pass from Mason Nevers at the right circle and buried his wrister to make it 1-1.
Jimmy Snuggerud (Chaska, Minn.) restored the U18s' lead with a second-chance goal against his future teammates. Lane Hutson (North Barrington, Ill.) used some fancy footwork to drive the net on a 4-on-4 sequence. The puck squirted free into the slot where Snuggerud collected and put a quick shot on net that beat Justen Close.
Team USA doubled the advantage with a Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) tap-in goal at the far post. Gavin Brindley (Estero, Fla.) dropped a pass to Tyler Duke (Strongsville, Ohio) on a 3-on-2 rush and the defenseman blasted a shot on net. The rebound caromed to Brindley who fed McGroarty at the back post for a 3-1 lead.
Rhett Pitlick brought the Golden Gophers within a goal late in the second period and Aaron Huglen roofed a quick wrister early in the third to tie the game at two goals apiece.
After some back and forth action, Meyers collected his second of the evening when he outwaited U18 goaltender Dylan Silverstein (Calabasas, Calif.) and tucked the puck in for a 4-3 Minnesota lead.
Blake McLaughlin made it a two-goal win for Minnesota when he took a Matt Staudacher rebound and deposited it in the net with less than four minutes to play in regulation.
Silverstein finished with 24 saves in his first action since returning to the team from representing Team USA at World Juniors.
The U18s are in Dubuque for a pair of USHL contests against the Fighting Saints. They hit the ice next on Friday night at Mystique Community Ice Center, puck drop set for 8:00 p.m. ET.