RAUMA, Finland - Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) collected three points apiece and Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) made 36 saves as the U.S. National Under-18 Team defeated Sweden by a 4-1 final Thursday evening at the U18 Four Nations in Finland.
Team USA defenseman Aram Minnetian (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) got a prime opportunity in the game's opening minutes but rang his uncontested attempt far-side off the post and out to keep the matchup scoreless.
The U.S. took advantage of a 5-on-3 situation to net the game's only goal of the opening period. Smith found Zeev Buium (San Diego, Calif.) at the right point, who worked the puck down to Perreault just outside the crease. He went all the way around the offensive zone before he returned the puck to Buium, who potted a back-side one-timer halfway through the period.
Team USA doubled the lead with another power-play marker off a pretty passing sequence from a trio of future Boston College Eagles. After taking a pass from Buium, Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) got the rubber over to Smith at the right point. He found Perreault creeping towards the cage, where he quickly potted his shot off the pass for a 2-0 lead.
The Europeans got their turn to cut into the lead as Felix Nilsson pounced on a second-chance opportunity halfway through the hockey game to make it a 2-1 contest.
The U18s potted yet another man-up goal to restore the lead to two goals after 40 minute of play. Danny Nelson (Maple Grove, Minn.) collected a loose puck in the offensive zone and sent it up the boards to Ryan Fine (Center Moriches, N.Y.). The forward slid the puck to Minnetian who teed off on a one-timer from the right point that finished far-side top corner to make it 3-1.
USA's top-line trio found some more magic late in regulation to push the game to a 4-1 final. Perreault hustled to a puck behind the Swedish cage and dished it out front to Smith. He dangled in and out of a defender before sliding a pass to Leonard in the crease for his 30th marker of the season.
U.S. netminder Augustine turned aside every Sweden shot in the final period and 36 on the night to extend his season record to a shiny 16-0-2.
Team USA returns to the ice tomorrow to take on the host Finns in tournament action. Puck drop is set for 12:00 p.m. ET from Westinghouse Arena and can be streamed live on Leijonat TV.