Photo by Rena Laverty
PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Salvatore Guzzo (Old Tappan, N.J.) netted his second career NTDP hat-trick and Drew Fortescue (Pearl River, N.Y.) added three points as the U.S. National Under-18 Team skated past the Utica Pioneers at the annual Teddy Bear Toss game Saturday night at USA Hockey Arena.
The U18s got on the board with the lone goal of the opening period on Guzzo's first of the evening. On a power play, Alex Weiermair (San Diego, Calif.) won the puck that got back to Fortescue at the right point. He found Guzzo at the right circle, where he sniped his shot in the top corner to let the teddy bears rain down onto the ice.
Guzzo connected again at 4:10 of the second period to put the U18s up 2-0. Carter Slaggert (South Bend, Ind.) started a 3-on-2 rush into the offensive zone and found Guzzo. He swung the puck to Fortescue who returned a pass to Guzzo in the slot. The Harvard commit connected from the left circle for his sixth score of the season.
Just over five minutes later, Weiermair found the back of the net to give him goals on back-to-back nights. His shot from between the hashmarks was set up by Guzzo and Fortescue to give both of them three-point evenings.
The home team made it four in a row on a pretty 2-on-1 that was finished in front by Ryan Fine (Center Moriches, N.Y.). Charlie Cerrato (Fallston, Md.) drew the puck around a defender and centered a feed to Fine alone in front for a backhand finish and his 10th score of the season.
Utica stopped the U.S. run 32 seconds later when Lucas Hermann potted a second-chance opportunity in front of the cage to make it a 4-1 game after 40 minutes of action.
Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) used a great individual effort going the length of the ice to net Team USA's fifth goal at 7:55 of the third. Zeev Buium (San Diego, Calif.) left the puck for the forward who took it from the U.S. defensive zone, drove through a trio of Pioneers skaters and finished with a quick deke to the forehand for his 18th goal of the season and a 5-1 USA lead.
After Utica earned another to cut the lead to 5-2, Guzzo completed the hat-trick right off an offensive-zone draw. Slaggert won the puck and Guzzo curled around the left circle and quickly fired before the Pioneers goaltender could react.
Team USA split the game in net evenly between Carsen Musser (Sherburn, MInn.) and Michael Chambre (Fort Myers, Fla.). Musser started and stopped all 10 shots he saw to pick up the win. Chambre made 10 saves in relief to close the game for Team USA.
The U18s finish their 2022 home schedule Wednesday morning against the Muskegon Lumberjacks for the annual Kids Day game. Puck drop is set for 10:30 a.m. at USA Hockey Arena.