Photo by Rena Laverty
MUSKEGON, Mich. – Behind 32 saves from Jack Parsons (Cortland, N.Y.) and two goals and an assist from Charlie Cerrato (Fallston, Md.), the U.S. National Under-17 Team split their weekend series against the Lumberjacks with a 5-1 win Saturday night inside Trinity Health Arena.
Team USA grabbed the lone goal of the first period, shorthanded, off the blade of Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.). Sam Laurila (Moorhead, Minn.) played the puck from behind the team's net and banked it off the neutral-zone boards. Muskegon defenseman Gavin McCarthy couldn't control the puck as it trickled into Team USA's offensive zone. McMorrow sped past McCarthy and generated a breakaway opportunity before he tucked it past Lumberjacks starting netminder Raythan Robbins.
Pace of play teetered back-and-forth between the two teams in the middle frame, but neither found the back of the net. Team USA's starting goaltender Parsons was challenged with 10 shots in the second, three more than the U.S. put on during the 20 minutes of play, but the Cortland, N.Y., native stayed calm in net and turned them all away.
Parsons made a pair of saves in the third at the 16:12 mark, with a tough one off a rebound, to keep Team USA in the lead.
The lead widened to a pair 5:20 into the period as Austin Burnevik (Blaine, Minn.) skated with the puck into the zone before it veered off and went behind the net. Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) and a Lumberjack raced towards the loose puck which the Muskegon player got to first, but a failed dump off put it on the tape of Cerrato. Cerrato quickly snapped it into the back of the net for the 2-0 lead.
Only 1:34 ticked by before the lead increased to 3-0 as Burnevik got in on the scoring. Cerrato controlled the puck around Robbins' net and eyed the ice for an open man. Burnevik placed himself in the slot and awaited the dish from Cerrato before he fired it home.
Coincidental minors saw four-on-four play with just over six minutes to play. In a final effort to close the gap, Muskegon pulled their goaltender and skated five-on-four. A mishandled pass was picked up by Cerrato to dumped it from his own zone all the way into the back of the net. Muskegon broke up Parsons' shutout bid with 1:42 to play and looked for another comeback effort and pulled their goalie again. Team USA took advantage once more with the empty net as Teddy Stiga (Sudbury, Mass.) buried the final goal of the contest to take the 5-1 win.
Parsons made 32 stops to back Team USA to a win.
The Under-17 Team returns to USA Hockey Arena next weekend for Military Appreciation Weekend where they'll square off against Youngstown. Next weekend's games can be streamed free on USA Hockey TV. For tickets, visit the USA Hockey Arena box office, call 734-453-8400 or click here.