Photo by Rena Laverty
MADISON, Wis. – The U.S. National Under-17 Team earned the extra point in a shootout thriller against the Capitols, 5-4, Sunday afternoon inside Bob Suter's Capitol Ice Arena. Starting U.S. netminder Nick Kempf (Morton Grove, Ill.) turned aside four of the five shooters, along with 33 shots through 65 minutes, while Carson Pilgrim (Warroad, Minn.) netted the shootout winner.
The Capitols got on the board early in the first as Madison's Jack Brandt kept with a loose puck in the slot and put it through. Kristian Epperson (Mequon, Wis.) nearly knotted things back up with a breakaway chance, which followed a Capitols delayed penalty, but Madison's starting netminder Rastislav Elias blocked it aside.
However, the U.S. got even with 7:25 to go in the opening frame off the tape of Kamil Bednarik (Elmhurst, Ill.). Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) banked it off the boards in the offensive zone up to Nathan Tobey (Lantana, Texas) at the blueline. Tobey fired one towards a screened Elias, along towards Bednarik in front, who got his stick on it and put it through.
Three minutes nearly went by before Team USA tallied once more to put themselves ahead after one. A U.S. defensive zone draw was won by Madison, but their defender mishandled the puck at the blueline which Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.) too advantage of. He used his speed and raced to the puck and beat out the last line of Madison's defense for a breakaway. The winger went forehand then backhand before he sent it past Elias.
Oliver Flynn and the Capitols evened things at two a side early in the second after an initial save was made, Flynn kept with the rebound and found the back of the net. The tie was short lived as 1:36 later Austin Burnevik (Blaine, Minn.) added his 11th of the year to put Team USA ahead, 3-2. With control of the puck in the offensive zone, Lucas Van Vliet (Livonia, Mich.) surveyed the ice from behind the net and sent one towards the crease. The deflected puck was loose in front as Burnevik kept track of it and found twine.
Madison tied things up once again moments later from Finn Brink who cleaned up a loose puck after Colton Jamieson rushed in with the initial shot. The Capitols added one more before intermission to take a 4-3 lead into the final period.
Charlie Pardue (Winnetka, Ill.) found the back of the net in the third to make things square with 12:05 to go. Ziemer intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and took it over the line with Pardue by his side. Ziemer sauced a pass over to Pardue who tee'd up a one-timer and fired it past Elias.
Neither team could break through for the remainder of regulation to force five minutes of 3-on-3 overtime.
The U.S. controlled overtime and maintained possession throughout but neither team found the back of the net to bring on a shootout, the first shootout of the season for the U17s.
Charlie Cerrato (Fallston, Md.), the third skater for Team USA, fired one home to put the pressure on the Capitols but they would answer to keep the shootout going. Carson Pilgrim (Warroad, Minn.) was the fifth and final skater in the shootout for the U.S. after he fired a shot past Elias before U.S. netminder Nick Kempf (Morton Grove, Ill.) took care of business on the other end and stopped the final shot to secure the win and two points.
Kempf started in net for Team USA and stopped 33 shots.
The Under-17 Team returns to USA Hockey Arena next weekend for a series against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Both games (Fri., April 7 & Sat., April 8) will start at 7:00 p.m. ET. 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.