BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) made 27 saves and six different Team USA skaters scored as the U.S. National Under-18 Team skated past the Bowling Green Falcons by a 6-3 final Friday evening at Slater Family Ice Arena.
With the win, the U18s collected their 14th win over NCAA competition this year, setting the record for the most of any NTDP birth class. Thirteen wins against Division I competition is four more than the next closest season.
After high-paced action in both ends for the majority of the first, Team USA broke the ice off a Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) goal at 14:03 of the period. Austin Burnevik (Blaine, Minn.) cleared the defensive zone and got the puck up to Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn.), charging the left wing. He dropped it to Leonard who collected, cut towards the hashes and netted a wrist-shot for the 1-0 lead.
Danny Nelson (Maple Grove, Minn.) quickly doubled the lead just over a minute later. Drew Fortescue (Pearl River, N.Y.) worked the puck away from a Bowling Green attacker and pitched the puck up to Nelson at center ice. He drove around a Falcon defender and got a shot off, while falling to the ice, that got by Salvatore Evola to make it a 2-0 game.
Team USA made it three in a row off a Ryan Fine (Center Moriches, N.Y.) snipe from the top of the right circle. Zeev Buium (San Diego, Calif.) drove the play into the offensive zone as he ripped a blue-to-blue pass to Salvatore Guzzo (Old Tappan, N.J.). Guzzo entered the offensive zone and left the puck for Fine who teed up a one-timer for the 3-0 lead.
The Falcons got on the scoreboard with just 6.9 seconds remaining in the opening frame. Taylor Schneider was left alone in front on the power play and his writer beat Augustine over the blocker for the game's fourth goal in six minutes.
Bowling Green brought the game back to within a goal 22 seconds in to the middle period. Adam Pitters took advantage of a U.S. defensive-zone turnover and slid a back-door pass to Seth Fyten who knocked it in to make it 3-2.
The Falcons matched the three-goal run with another power-play score at 7:33 of the second frame. Schneider drew the attention this time and went to the far-circle for Ryan O'Hara's shot on the open net to even the score at three.
Team USA regained the lead as Guzzo sprawled at a loose puck in the. crease. Charlie Cerrato (Fallston, Md.) didn't get all of his shot from the slot which fooled both the defenders and the goalie as the puck trickled toward the goal line. Guzzo dove and got a stick on it to punch it in for his 11th marker of the year.
The U.S. got a pair of insurance goals late in regulation. Aram Minnetian (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) picked off a Falcons pass and found Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) who roofed a one-timer from the inside of the left circle. Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) sealed the game with a wrister from the same position for the 6-3 final.
Augustined turned aside all nine Bowling Green shots in the final 20 minutes as he earned his 14th win of the season.
The Under-18 Team returns home tomorrow night to host the Dubuque Fighting Saints at USA Hockey Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. and tickets are available at USAHockeyNTDP.com/tix.