RAUMA, Finland - Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) had four goals, Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) recorded a hat-trick of his own and Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) doubled his previous season-high with six assists as the U.S. National Under-18 Team rolled past Czechia, 9-1, in the final game of the 2023 U18 Four Nations in Finland.
Team USA came out blazing with the game's first four goals, three of which came in the opening four minutes of play. Ryan Leonard got the party started with a power-play marker at 1:56. Gabe Perreault danced around the top of the zone and found Leonard stationed at the right dot. He collected and fired in to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn.) finished a 2-on-1 break to double the lead. Beckett Hendrickson (Minnetonka, Minn.) made a play in the neutral zone to force a turnover and punched the puck up to Ryan Fine (Center Moriches, N.Y.) along the right wing. The Harvard commit drew the defender before shifting the puck over to Moore who made no mistake on his 22nd goal and 50th point of the season.
After a Czech penalty on the ensuing draw, the U18s needed all of eight seconds on the power play for Will Smith to extend the lead to three. Will Vote (Arlington, Mass.) won a puck battle and worked the rubber back to Perreault at the right point. He went across the slot to Smith at the left dot where he teed up a one-timer in the top corner.
The Americans made it four in a row after Smith netted his second of the period at 7:39 of the first. Kai Janviriya (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) poked the puck to Smith, who ran a 2-on-1 break with Leonard. Smith delivered the pass but the initial shot popped off the goaltender and back to the slot. Smith found the rebound and fired in for his 30th goal of the year.
The Czechs managed to stop the run off a nice tic-tac-toe passing sequence that ended with Andrej Fabry putting one in to make it a 4-1 contest.
Leonard began the middle frame with two goals in 35 seconds to give him his second hat-trick of the season. He got his second of the night off a quick feed in front from Perreault and then earned the third after he went five-hole on a breakaway.
Smith matched Leonard's hat-trick with one of his own as he extended the U.S. advantage to 7-1 at 8:50 of the second. The future Boston College Eagle came to a half at the left dot, looked around for a pass and decided to wire his shot into the top corner for his second three-goal performance in the past six games.
Off of feeds from Alex Weiermair (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Brady Cleveland (Wausau, Wis.), Austin Burnevik (Blaine, Minn.) drove the right wing and sent his wrister into the back of the net to extend the lead early in the third period.
Smith collected his fourth score of the night to cap the game with a 9-1 final.
USA starter Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) made 11 stops through 40 minutes to extend his pristine record to 17-0-2 on the year. Carsen Musser (Sherburn, Minn.) made saves on all eight shots he saw to pitch a clean third period.
The Under-18 Team will return to the States but is off of the ice this weekend. They play next Friday, February 24, when they kick off a two-game homestand against the Lindenwood Lions to cap off their 2022-23 Kroger College Series.