Photo by Rena Laverty
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The U.S. National Under-17 Team fell to the Phantoms in the last game of the regular season, 5-1, Saturday night inside the Covelli Centre.
Youngstown was quick to get on the board as Miles Gunty put one through from atop the crease 3:15 into the contest. Team USA threw 10 shots on net to try and get one passed Youngstown's netminder Jacob Fowler but he turned aside them all to go into the locker room down one.
The Phantoms went up a pair early in the second after Brandon Svoboda cleaned up a loose puck in the slot.
After interference was called on Youngstown's Chase Pietila, Team USA had room to work the puck around the horn. Kamil Bednarik (Elmhurst, Ill.) left the puck up top for Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) who assessed his shooting lane and waited patiently. After some time, he fired one on net and whizzed the puck passed Fowler to make it 2-1 with 11:50 left to go.
Youngstown nearly regained the two-goal lead with under five minutes to go, but a trio of point-blank saves from U.S. starting netminder Jack Parsons (Cortland, N.Y.) kept the game at bay. On the other end, as time was ticking down, Bednarik and Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) went 2-on-1 while shorthanded and nearly tied things up but Fowler denied the chance.
Three seconds after Team USA's penalty expired, Youngstown found the back of the net to put the U.S. down a pair heading into intermission.
With one final effort to tie things up, still down two, Team USA emptied their net for the extra attacker. Youngstown flipped it down the ice into the empty net with under five minutes to go to put the game out of reach. One more empty-net goal for Youngstown put the game final at 5-1.
Parsons stopped 33 shots for Team USA.
The Under-17 Team closed out the regular season 35-21-2-0 as Team USA earned the 3-seed in the USHL Clark Cup Playoffs. The U.S. opens the playoffs at home Monday (April 24) against Cedar Rapids in a best-of-three series. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on USA Hockey TV. For playoff tickets, visit the USA Hockey Arena box office, call 734-453-8400 or click here.