Photo by Rena Laverty
PLYMOUTH, Mich. – The U.S. National Under-17 Team fell to the RoughRiders, 5-2, Monday night in game one of the first round of the USHL Playoffs inside USA Hockey Arena. Teddy Stiga (Sudbury, Mass.) netted the first playoff goal inside USA Hockey Arena in over five years while Austin Burnevik (Blaine, Minn.) tallied a goal.
There was no shortage of chances on each side, as Team USA fired off 14 shots in the opening 20 while Cedar Rapids put nine on net. The game appeared to be scoreless heading into the locker room, with Team USA killing off a penalty, but a late surge put the U.S. in front.
Stiga snuck up behind a Cedar Rapids' defender in transition and stole the puck to generate a 2-on-1 chance as the time ticked down. Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) picked up the the puck in the neutral zone and raced down the ice with Stiga by his side. Baker took it himself but a blocked shot veered the puck to Stiga who jammed it in atop the crease for the 1-0 lead with :11 to go.
Cedar Rapids quickly answered in the opening minutes of the second, The RoughRiders forced a turnover at the blue line as Martins Lavins raced down to grab the goal. Cedar Rapids continued to pile it on near the midway point if the second period and scored a trio of goals in 1:16 time to make it 4-1.
The RoughRiders' lead was cut down to a pair with help from Burnevik. Shane Vansaghi (St. Louis, Mo.) carried the puck around the net before he found Dakoda Rheaume-Mullen (Northville, Mich.) at the blue line. Rheaume-Mullen blasted one on net as Burnevik got his stick on it to deflect it past RoughRider netminder Bruno Bruveris with 6:33 to play in the middle frame.
Play was stout in the third period as Cedar Rapids held on to their lead and made it difficult for a Team USA comeback. With under three minutes to go, the U.S. emptied their net to bring on an extra attacker. Zaccharya Wisdom of Cedar Rapids sent one down the ice into the back of the net for the 5-2 final.
Nick Kempf (Morton Grove, Ill.) started in net for Team USA and stopped 21 shots.
The Under-17 Team continues the first round of the playoffs tomorrow at home against the RoughRiders. Team USA must win tomorrow's game to force a game three on Wednesday (April 26). Tomorrow’s game can be streamed free on USA Hockey TV. For tickets, visit the USA Hockey Arena box office, call 734-453-8400 or click here.