Photo by Rena Laverty
Plymouth, Mich. – The U.S. National Under-17 Team defeated the Chicago Steel, 5-4, Saturday evening inside USA Hockey Arena to split its weekend series. Team USA was led by James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) with two goals and an assist, and Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) netted the game winner.
Just like the night before, it was the U17s who came out of the gate quick as Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) tallied his first of the year. Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) forced a neutral zone turnover and sped into the attacking zone. He ripped a shot on net and Chicago’s starting netminder Christian Manz got a piece of it, but a streaking Baker cleaned up the rebound to make it 1-0.
Team USA’s starting netminder Nick Kempf (Morton Grove, Ill.) was tested early on and made a pair of back-to-back saves to keep the U17s up, highlighted by a paddle save. The Steel were able to break through though late in the first, as Nick Moldenhauer took advantage of a power-play opportunity to knot things up. The Steel nearly went ahead with :20 left on the clock on a breakaway, but Kempf turned it aside to keep things square after 20.
Play went back-and-forth in the middle frame with good looks from both teams. Kempf, once again, came up with a big pair of saves a quarter of the way through to keep the game knotted at one. Eiserman broke the stalemate 7:56 into the period on the power play with a blast from the face-off circle. Cole Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) brought the puck down from the blue line and fed Eiserman who had an open net to work with.
Chicago’s Macklin Celebrini answered, but Hagens would get one back to retake the lead. Hagens beat a Steel defender and circled around him before he sniped a shot over the shoulder of Manz. Just 2:29 ticked off the clock before Chicago made it even at three from the blade of Mick Thompson.
Hagens potted his second of the night 5:33 into the final period with help from Hutson's third assist of the night. Hutson walked the blue line and dashed towards the goal before he fed the puck to Hagens who finished it off from the crease. Ziemer recorded his first goal and point of the season from the slot. A timely goal as it added an insurance goal for the U17s nearly halfway through the third.
The Steel had one final attack in the closing minutes with its net empty and added one but it was too late as the U17s prevailed to get the teams first win on home ice.
Kempf started in net for Team USA and stopped 33 shots faced.
The Under-17 Team returns to the ice next Friday for a single home game against the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. ET and can be streamed on HockeyTV. For tickets, click here.