Photo by Rena Laverty
MUSKEGON, Mich. – The U.S. National Under-17 Team fell to the Lumberjacks in overtime, 4-3, Friday night inside Trinity Health Arena. Team USA erased a two-goal deficit as three U.S. skaters potted a goal.
After nearly 15 minutes of scoreless back-and-forth action, Muskegon's Ethan Frederick's converted off a rebound opportunity to open up the scoring. Team USA was controlling on a power play, but a broken stick following a shot from the point opened up a 2-on-1 shorthanded opportunity for the Lumberjacks. Justin Soloevy took advantage of the stickless defender and scored the team's second of the period. Another 2-on-1 broke out in favor of Muskegon, but John Whipple (Minnetonka, Minn.) sprawled out and poked the puck away to disrupt the attack.
It took halfway through the period but Team USA cut their deficit to one off the blade of Kamil Bednarik (Elmhurst, Ill.). Muskegon defenseman Roy Chung tried to backhand the puck out of the zone, but Bednarik intercepted it in the slot. The lane was open for the center to snipe it past the Lumberjack's starting netminder Raythan Robbins.
James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) tied things up at two with 4:21 to go with the help from both Noah Lapointe (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Cole Hutson (Barrington, Ill.). Lapointe battled with the puck along the boards before he quickly tapped the puck to Hagens by his side. Hagens dashed towards the middle of the ice and sent it home.
Lucas Van Vliet (Livonia, Mich.) netted his sixth of the year to put the U17s up, 3-2, 1:28 after the equalizer. The puck corralled along the boards in Team USA's offensive zone before Van Vliet fed it to Max Plante (Hermantown, Minn.). The pass was perfectly timed as Plante picked up his loose stick from the ice and dished it back to Van Vliet for the lead.
Muskegon knotted things up 4:54 into the third with Nicholas Rexine collecting his third goal of the year and to force overtime.
The final buzzer almost rang to advance into a shootout, but Muskegon's Cody Croal netted the game winner with :24 seconds left as the U17s leave Muskegon with one point in the standings.
Jack Parsons (Cortland, N.Y.) started in net for Team USA and stopped 32 shots.
The Under-17 Team now heads to Switzerland to compete in the U17 Four Nations Tournament where they'll face off against Switzerland, Sweden and Slovakia over the course of the next week.