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U18s Top St. Thomas 5-2 to Run Win Streak to Nine

By USA Hockey's NTDP, 10/14/22, 10:15PM EDT


Will Smith collects team-high three points in win

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. - Four players had multi-point nights, led by three assists from Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.), and Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) made a career-high 39 saves, as the U.S. National Under-18 Team skated past the St. Thomas Tommies by a 5-2 final Friday night at St. Thomas Ice Arena.

With the win, the U18s have won nine straight games to start the 2022-23 season, the best streak to begin a campaign in NTDP history. Five of the nine wins have come against NCAA Division I schools. 

Team USA defenseman Aram Minnetian (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) put the U.S. on the board first his first marker of the season. Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn.) looked to attack the zone but peeled the puck back to the defenseman at the left point. Minnetian fired his shot that got deflected in front of the cage and up and over the right shoulder of Aaron Trotter for a 1-0 lead. Paul Fischer (River Forest, Ill.) picked up the second assist on the opening goal. 

Box Score

The U18s' top line continued its hot start to the season to stretch the lead to 2-0 before the end of the first. Smith skated around the offensive zone before he found a cutting Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) for the initial shot, which was turned aside. Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) was the first man to the rebound and he deposited it in the cage for a 2-0 lead on his seventh score of the season. 

USA netminder Augustine turned aside a pair of shots from St. Thomas forward Luke Manning, the second a great pad stop, to keep the Tommies off the board midway through the second. 

A beautiful tic-tac-toe passing sequence, and another top-line effort on the power play, extended the U.S. lead to 3-0 with 6:49 remaining in the middle period. Leonard carried into the offensive and dropped the rubber for Smith at the right point. He went cross-ice to Perreault on the left side of the net, who one-touched his pass across the crease to Leonard for his 10th score in nine games this year. 

The Tommies' Ryan O'Neill converted on a second-chance opportunity to put St. Thomas on the board and make it a 3-1 game after 40 minutes. 

The home team cut the deficit to one early in the third during 4-on-4 play after a USA mishap in the offensive zone. The puck bounced over the defenseman's blade and Tim Piechowski raced to grab the puck first. He carried down the right wing and put his shot through the five-hole of Augustine to make it 3-2. 

The U18s restored the two-goal advantage with another power-play marker off the stick of Moore. Again it was Smith who started the play as he toured the offensive zone from behind the net to the center point. He dangled his way down the middle of the ice before he fed Moore on the off-wing, where he potted his one-timer from the right circle.

Alex Weiermair (Los Angeles, Calif.) dumped one in the empty net with just over a minute to play in regulation for the 5-2 final. 

Augustine's 39 stops were the most in his NTDP career as he collected his fifth win in as many appearances to start the campaign.

The Under-18 Team stays in Minnesota for tomorrow night's contest at Bethel University. Puck drop is slated for 8:00 p.m. from Bethel University Arena in Blaine, Minnesota. 

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