Photo by Mike Caples
PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Behind scoring from six separate players, the U.S. National Under-17 Team took down the Capitols, 7-2, Friday night inside USA Hockey Arena. Max Plante (Hermantown, Minn.) led the way with two goals, including the game winner in the second period.
The game teetered back-and-forth in the opening frame, with nearly equal amount of shots coming through 20. Near the midway point, starting U.S. netminder Nick Kempf (Morton Grove, Ill.) was forced to make a plethora of point-blank saves, one on a breakaway and one right in front, to keep the game knotted at zero.
It was until 16:54 went by in the first until someone broke the ice as Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) potted his 11th of the year. Dakota Rheaume-Mullen (Northville, Mich.) skated along the blue line and passed it to fellow defenseman EJ Emery (Compton, Calif.). Emery put it through traffic where the puck fell onto the tape of Ziemer who finished it off.
Plante extended Team USA’s lead 3:12 into the middle frame off his own rebound opportunity. Cole Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) corralled the puck behind the net and dropped it off for Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.). McMorrow made the quick pass to Plante who fired it at starting Capitols goaltender Carter Wishart for an initial save, but Plante kept with it to net the the second chance.
Just 3:44 ticked on the clock before Plante potted his second of the game to give Team USA a 3-0 advantage. Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) fired a shot on net which was deflected wide to Lucas Van Vliet (Livonia, Mich.). Van Vliet carried the puck behind the net where he connected with Plante for an open net to work with and pushed it past Wishart.
The Capitols put themselves on the board with 2:59 left in the second after Jack Musa recorded his 17th of the year on the powerplay.
Team USA was quick to respond though with a shorthanded goal 1:23 after. Teddy Stiga (Sudbury, Mass.) garnered a turnover and pushed it up ice to Baker who used speed to get around the Capitols back line and send it into the back of the net.
Team USA checked all the boxes as the tallied a power-play goal early into the third. Rheaume-Mullen dashed into the offensive zone with the puck and skated along the wing. He put the puck towards the slot where Kamil Bednarik (Elmhurst, Ill.) found twine to give the U17s a comfortable 5-1 lead.
John Whipple (Minnetonka, Minn.) extended the Team USA lead after he buried a rebound following a Ziemer shot at Wishart. The Capitols tallied once more in the final minute but Team USA answered right back as Stiga got in on the scoring to make it the 7-2 final.
Kempf backed Team USA to the win with 18 saves made.
The Under-17 Team now heads overseas to play in the Five Nations Tournament in Romanshorn, Switzerland from Jan. 8-11. The tournament schedule, along with live stats, can be found here. All games will be streamed live on the ‘SwissIceHockey’ YouTube channel.