Photo by Rena Laverty
ASHWAUBENON, Wis. – The U.S. National Under-17 Team used five unanswered goals en route to a 7-3 comeback win over the Gamblers Saturday night inside Resch Center. Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) and Kamil Bednarik (Elmhurst, Ill.) led the way with two goals each.
Just like the day previous, Team USA was the first team to get on the board once again from Austin Burnevik (Blaine, Minn.). A defensive-zone draw was won by Green Bay but the defender mishandled the puck and made it a racing game with Burnevik. The forward beat the defender and muscled his way towards the goal for a five-hole shot, 3:05 into the game.
The Gamblers answered in the middle frame to tie things up, as defenseman Artyom Levshunov found the back of the net on the power play.
The Gamblers looked to take the lead three minutes later on another power play chance but it was Kristian Epperson (Mequon, Wis.) who tallied a shorthanded goal to give the U.S. a lead. The puck corralled along the board out of Team USA's defensive zone as Epperson turned up his speed to beat the Gambler's back line. His charged forward and snapped a shot past Green Bay's starting netminder Klayton Knapp,
The game continued to teeter back-and-forth as Green Bay knotted things back up with their second powerplay goal on the night, this time off the blade of Nicholas VanTassell, with 10:26 to play in the second. Green Bay took their first lead of the night at the 12:33 mark of the second period as Eli Sebastian converted on another power play opportunity from atop the faceoff dot to make it a 3-2 game.
The game followed suit as, once again, it was at a stalemate on the scoreboard. Baker scored his own powerplay goal to even things after two. The Gamblers attempted to dump the puck out of their zone, but the attempt was fanned on. Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) poked it to Baker who put it across the goal line.
What appeared to be a tie game headed into intermission was reversed as a U.S. goal, that was initially ruled no goal, was overturned. Bednarik turned on the burners and sped past the Gambler defense with seconds left on the scoreboard. He sent on into the top corner that went in-and-out and appeared to be no goal. However, after a video review at the horn, the puck crossed the goal line and put Team USA up.
Bednarik kept up the pace in the third and tallied Team USA's second powerplay goal of the night with 12:41 to play. With open ice to work with, Logan Hensler (Woodbury, Minn.) handled the puck at the blue line and sent it down to Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.). He quickly put it on the tape of Bednarik who fired it past Knapp for a two-goal lead.
Baker found the back of the net once again to get into the double digits in goals after he raced into the offensive zone and slid it along the ice for the goal. Lucas Van Vliet (Livonia, Mich.) finished off the scoring for the game after him and Epperson generated a two-on-one chance and converted for the 7-3 final.
Jack Parsons (Cortland, N.Y.) started in net for Team USA and stopped 25 shots.
The Under-17 Team continue play on the road next weekend against the Dubuque Fighting Saints on Friday (March 24) and Saturday (March 25). Both games are slated to start at 8:00 p.m. ET and can be streamed on FloHockey.