DUBUQUE, Iowa - The U.S. National Under-18 Team used four unanswered goals in the final two periods of play to take the opening game of the series against the Dubuque Fighting Saints, 4-2, Friday evening in Iowa.
Dubuque jumped out of the gate with a pair of power-play markers to take a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. First, it was Nikita Boroyadenko connecting on a second-chance in front of the net at 9:10 of the period. Then Connor Kurth, the USHL's second-leading goal scorer found a loose puck and flipped in a shot with less than three minutes to play in the period.
The U18s answered with a trio of their own in the middle frame that began with a Frank Nazar III (Mount Clemens, Mich.) man-up goal less than four minutes in. Lane Hutson (North Barrington, Ill.) fed a lengthy pass up the left-side boards that Nazar collected, sped by the defense and roofed a quick wrist-shot to cut the lead in half.
Team USA evened the game off a redirection goal from Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.), his ninth of the season. Cole Spicer (Grand Forks, N.D.) went low-to-high to Seamus Powell (Marcellus, N.Y.), who floated a shot on net. Leonard got a deflection on the puck before it got to Paxton Geisel to tie the game at 2-2.
Team USA claimed the advantage when Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) ran a perfect 2-on-1 with Marek Hejduk (Parker, Colo.), who took the pass and went top-shelf over the shoulder of Geisel with 1:31 to play in the second. Charlie Leddy (Fairfield, Conn.) won a puck battle along the boards to start the runout to collect a helper on the score.
Spicer capped a chaotic sequence with a wrister from the right face-off circle to double the USA lead. Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn.) used a spinning pass to set up the first shot from Aram Minnetian (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.), that was stopped by Geisel. Spicer picked up the rebound and took the second-chance shot to give him nine goals on the campaign.
USA netminder Tyler Muszelik (Long Valley, N.J.) was busiest early on in the game, making 13 saves in the opening period, including a slick breakaway save on Stephen Halliday, en route to a 30 save night. The win was his 13th of the season.
The two sides square up again tomorrow evening with another 8:00 p.m. ET puck drop at Mystique Community Ice Center in Dubuque.