GENEVA, Ill. - The U.S. National Under-18 Team put 40 shots on net but could not come away on top as they fell to the Chicago Steel by a 7-3 final in their final USHL game of the season Sunday afternoon in Illinois.
The Steel raced out to a 2-0 lead before the game's first media timeout. Quinn Finley got the home team on the board first as he cleaned up a bouncing puck just outside the crease for his 21st of the season. Macklin Celibrini followed less than a minute later with a power-play snipe from the right circle.
The U.S. responded with a power-play goal of their own as Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) connected on a one-timer after driving towards the net. From the end wall, Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) gave it to Beckett Hendrickson (Minnetonka, Minn.) below the goal line. He found the cutting Leonard to put the U18s on the board.
A minute later, Chicago restored the two-goal lead as Michael Hage got his first USHL goal on another Steel power play to make it 3-1.
James Hagens (Hauppague, N.Y.) made it four straight power-play tallies in the game as he converted from close on a second-chance opportunity. Cole Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) set up Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn.) for the initial shot from the top of the left circle and Hagens was able to pot the rebound for his 30th goal of the season.
Celebrini added another Steel marker with eight seconds to play in the opening frame to make it 4-2 after 20 minutes. \
Michael Hagens, older brother of USA's James, got alone in front and outwaited Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) before tucking his shot into the net to push Chicago's lead to 5-2 at 6:23 of the middle period and Anthony Dowd added another second-chance goal less than a minute later for the Steel.
Thor Byfuglien was credited for a Steel goal early in the third and Perreault capped the scoring with his team-leading 46th of the season for the 7-3 final.
Augustine finished with 29 saves on the afternoon in his first regulation loss of the season.
The game capped the Under-18 Team's domestic schedule as they turn their sights to the IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship later this month in Switzerland.