Photo by Rena Laverty
PLYMOUTH, Mich. - The U.S. National Under-18 team defeated the Muskegon Lumberjacks ,10-1, on Tuesday night at USA Hockey Arena. Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) collected a hat trick and surpassed Cole Caufield for most goals in a U17 season and Auston Matthews for the second-most goals in any NTDP season. Nine players tallied multiple points in the U18s final home game of the season.
Team USA dominated early and racked up 13 shots in the first nine minutes of action before Eiserman opened scoring on the power play. Cole Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) dropped a pass back to Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn.), who found Eiserman for a one-timer that found its way through the pads of 'Jacks goalie Raythan Robbins. The goal marked Eiserman’s 55th of the season and set the NTDP's all-time record for goals scored in a U17 season.
Beckett Hendrickson (Minnetonka, Minn.) extended the U.S. lead less than 90 seconds later. Hutson found Drew Fortescue (Pearl River, N.Y.), who skated along the blueline and fired a shot that was re-directed by Hendrickson into the back of the net. The goal was the University of Minnesota commit's 12th of the season and gave Fortescue 23 points on the season, all helpers.
After Ethan Whitcomb put Muskegon on the board, Eiserman restored the two-goal lead just 18 seconds later. After a scramble in front, the puck deflected off James Hagens' (Hauppauge, N.Y.) skate and to Eiserman, who sent his shot in for his 56th of the season, passing Auston Matthews for the second-most goals in an NTDP single season.
Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) extended the lead to 4-1 and added to his season highlight reel with a beautiful power-play goal late in the period. The Boston College commit walked in from the point, toe dragged around a defender, and unleashed a shot into the top corner for his 40th score of the season.
The U18s continued to impress in the second period with another four scores. Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) skated the puck down the wall and slid a nice pass to Ryan Fine (Center Moriches, N.Y.) in the slot who fired it home at 2:38 of the middle period.
Alex Weiermair (Los Angeles, Calif.) got in on the action with his 10th of the season at 6:24 of the second. Smith carried the puck through the neutral zone and hit Weiermair with a pass that sent him on a short breakaway, where he flipped it over the goalie’s shoulder to make it 6-1.
Eiserman completed the hat trick with a rocket of a one-timer for the fourth U.S. power-play goal and Smith added his second of the night to make it 8-1 at the second intermission.
Weiermair found Hendrickson on the doorstep early in the third period to give both skaters multi-point nights and Danny Nelson (Maple Grove, Minn.) converted late in regulation to make it a 10-1 final score.
Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) made six saves on seven shots in the first half of the game to extend his record to 23-0-2 on the year, before giving way to Hampton Slukynsky (Warroad, Minn.), who stopped all 23 shots he faced in his Team USA debut.
The U18s will be back in action on Saturday for the first game of a weekend series in Chicago against the Steel. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. at Fox Valley Ice Arena.