Photo by Rena Laverty
ASHWAUBENON, Wis. – The U.S. National Under-17 Team fell to the Gamblers, 7-4, Friday night inside Resch Center. Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) lead the way for Team USA with a goal and an assist, while four different players tallied a goal.
Team USA got the scoring started early and netted their first goal 4:28 into the period. On the power play, Kristian Epperson (Mequon, Wis.) dumped the puck into the zone that a Gambler picked up behind the net. A mismanaged pass gave Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) the puck who passed one into the slot for Austin Burnevik (Blaine, Minn.) to snap one into the net.
The U17s went up a pair off the blade of Baker coming from a penalty shot. Baker was all alone with Gambler netminder Kristoffer Eberly before he drew the penalty for the penalty shot. Skating in wide, he made his way towards the crease and sent one five-hole to extend the lead.
Green Bay answered though to cut into Team USA's lead before intermission as Matthew DiMarsico deflected a shot from the blue line into the net.
The Gamblers tied things up in the opening minutes of the second period after Michael DeAngelo finished off a rebound. Green Bay made work of a power play and tallied another goal coming off a rebound, this time from forward Barrett Hall, to take the lead. The Gamblers packed it on in the middle frame and netted their third goal in 2:55 to put it at 4-2.
The scoring brigade continued, but this time from Team USA and Epperson. Eberly went to play the puck behind the net and Eero Butella (Evanston, Ill.) intercepted the pass and found Epperson with an open net to work with. Epperson quickly sent it home and cut Green Bay's lead to one with 14:34 to go. However, the opposition answered yet again with a trio of goals to end the second to put Team USA down, 7-3, after 40 minutes of play.
Team USA vied a comeback in the third as Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.) stole the puck and dashed down the ice. He kept it himself and tucked one in with speed to make it a 7-4 game with 7:06 to play. The comeback fell short as the U17s went on to drop their weekend opener, 7-4.
Nick Kempf (Morton Grove, Ill.) started in net for Team USA and stopped 26 shots.
The Under-17 Team will finish out their road series tomorrow against the Gamblers at 8:00 p.m. ET and can be streamed on FloHockey.