BLAINE, Minn. – The U.S. National Under-17 Team defeated the Johnstown Tomahawks, 4-0, Friday evening inside the Blaine Super Rink at the NAHL Showcase. Team USA was led by winger Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) with a pair of goals and an assist, along with Nick Kempf (Morton Grove, Ill.) who picked up the complete game shutout.
It was a stalemate through the first 20 minutes of play but there was no lack of opportunities for Team USA. Shane Vansaghi (St. Louis. Mo.) nearly got the game going with 7:58 to go with a point-blank shot from the slot but Johnstown’s starting netminder Matt O'Donnell blocked it aside. Almost two minutes later, an offensive zone turnover put the puck on the blade of Teddy Stiga (Sudbury, Mass.) behind the night. Stiga came inches from finding the back of the net with a wraparound chance but was denied to keep things knotted at zero.
The momentum carried over into the middle frame as Lucas Van Vliet (Livonia, Mich.) put Team USA on the board, 2:13 in. Van Vliet picked up the puck off the boards in the defensive zone and carried it through the neutral zone and across the blue line. Van Vliet split through two defenders and controlled the puck in the slot before he flipped it in for the lead.
Just :41 seconds later, the U17s found twine again, this time off the tape of Eiserman. Cole Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) picked up a rebound and skated towards the top off the faceoff circle to open up the ice. Eiserman snuck behind the defense and was left unattended on the doorstep where Hutson fed him a pass and tapped in the team’s second of the night.
Eiserman netted his second of the game halfway through the third on the power play. Will Skahan (Woodbury, Minn.) shuffled the puck to Eiserman as he raced down the ice and muscled his way through a pair of Tomahawks defenders before he sent it home. Only 1:03 later would the U17s pot another, this time from center Kamil Bednarik (Elmhurst, Ill.). Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.) skated the blue line before he dished it over to Logan Hensler (Woodbury, Minn.). Hensler put one on net that deflected off Bednarik and went across the goal line for the four-goal lead. The defense held strong throughout to keep the lead and shutout the Tomahawks.
Kempf started in net for the U17s and stopped all 33 shots faced for his first career NTDP shutout.
The Under-17 Team is back in action tomorrow against the Maine Nordiques for its final game of the NAHL Showcase. Puck drop is set for 7:15pm ET and can be streamed on HockeyTV.