MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The U.S. National Under-18 Team scored late in regulation to cut its deficit to one, but could not find the game-tying goal in a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers Thursday afternoon at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Minnesota's Rhett Pitlick connected on a breakaway on the game's first shot, but future Golden Gopher Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn.) tied the game at the midway mark of the period. On a delayed power play, Zeev Buium (San Diego, Calif.) moved the puck down low to Danny Nelson (Maple Grove, Minn.) behind the Minnesota cage. He faked one way and slid a back-door pass to Moore for his 18th score of the season to even the score.
The Gophers added a pair before the buzzer to take a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes. Matthew Knies found the back of the net with a quick wrister from the top of the left circle and Pitlick netted his second score of the afternoon with a shorthanded snap-shot from the left hashes.
The U.S. more than doubled up Minnesota in shots in the second period, gathering an 11-5 advantage, but neither side could light the lamp in the middle frame.
Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) earned a great chance midway through the final period of regulation as he got a partial breakaway, but couldn't get a shot on net as a Gopher defender raced back to tie his stick up.
Will Vote (Arlington, Mass.) did pull the U18s within a score with 1:52 to play in regulation. With the goaltender pulled, Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) centered a feed to a jumble of players in front of the net. Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) and Moore jammed at it in front before the puck came loose for Vote to send in.
Team USA got another chance to pull Carsen Musser (Sherburn, Minn.), but could not get a shot on net late in regulation and fell in a 3-2 final.
Musser stood tall in net for the U.S. and finished with 29 saves, including stopping each of the final 16 shots from the Golden Gophers.
The Under-18 Team finishes the 2022 portion of its schedule with a New Year's Eve affair against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. Puck drop is slated for 5:00 p.m. ET from Ralph Engelstad Arena in North Dakota on Saturday evening.