CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The U.S. National Under-17 Team made their USHL debut Friday evening, dropping an 8-3 decision to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at ImOn Ice in Iowa.
After nearly 10 minutes of scoreless play, the contest opened up with three goals in a 34 second span. The RoughRiders' JJ Wiebush cracked the scoreboard when he converted on a back-door feed from Ryan Walsh to make it 1-0.
U17 forward Kristian Epperson (Mequon, Wis.) answered the goal 14 seconds later with a quick wrist shot from the right face-off circle. Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) picked up the lone assist for his first career USHL point.
Cedar Rapids regained the lead 20 seconds later after Zaccharya Wisdom weaved through the Team USA defense and deposited a shot between the legs of Nick Kempf (Morton Grove, Ill.).
The Under-17 Team evened the score before the close of the period off a bad-angled shot from Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.). He gained possession in the neutral zone off a poke pass from Kamil Bednarik (Elmhurst, Ill.). McMorrow ran a 3-on-2 break before putting the puck on net and through the five-hole of Bruno Bruveris to tie the game at 2-2.
Wisdom collected his second score of the evening early in the middle frame. Brendan Fitzgerald fed him in the slot and Wisdom was first to his own rebound and potted the second chance to take Cedar Rapids' third lead of the night.
The U17s used a fortunate bounce to knot the score at 3-3 just more than five minutes later. After Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) drove the right lane to move the puck into the offensive zone, the loose rubber bounced off the blade of Will Skahan (Woodbury, Minn.), then off two RoughRiders skaters and into the net for a power-play tally.
Cedar Rapids opened up a 7-3 lead after 40 minutes after they netted a quartet of scores in the final six minutes of the second period.
Jack Parsons (Cortland, N.Y.) manned the net for the U17s and turned aside eight of nine shots to make it an 8-3 final.
The two sides meet again for the rematch tomorrow evening. Puck drop is set for 8:00 p.m. from ImOn Ice.