Photo by Dan Hickling
CRANBERRY TWP., Pa. - James Hagens' (Hauppauge, N.Y.) late goal forced overtime and Logan Hensler (Woodbury, Minn.) won it in the extra session as the U.S. Under-18 National Team completed a wild third-period comeback to take down the Dubuque Fighting Saints by a 6-5 final Saturday afternoon at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in the USHL Fall Classic.
In the 3-on-3 period, Hensler dug the puck out of the defensive zone and pushed it to Hagens running along the left wing. He came to a quick halt with his head up and returned the puck to a charching Hensler. The 6-foot-2 defenseman collected the pass in the slot and buried a quick wrist-shot to give the U18s a massive come-from-behind victory.
Team USA earned a 13-5 shot advantage in the opening 20 minutes, but neither team could find the back of the net in a goalless opening frame. Both sides had two opportunities on the man advantage and chances throughout, but goaltenders Jack Parsons (Ithaca, N.Y.) and Kevin Reidler held strong.
Less than five minutes into the middle frame, Dubuque got the game's first goal from Chase LaPinta on the power play. NTDP alum Seamus Powell teed one up from the point and LaPinta deflected his slap-shot in the back of the net for a 1-0 Fighting Saints lead.
On the ensuing shift, Team USA evened the score off a Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) wrister from the slot. Hensler put a shot on net that deflected off Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) and right to Eiserman, who connected for his second score of the season.
Dubuque responded with a pair of goals in 69 seconds late in the period to take a 3-1 lead into the second intermission. First, it was Jayden Jubenvill who took a sharp-angled shot from the left wing. Parsons got a piece of the puck, but not all of it, as it slowly trickled over the line to give the Fighting Saints their second lead of the afternoon.
Shortly after, it was another shot from the left-wing boards to double the lead. After Parsons had played the puck behind his cage, Dubuque's Andrew King was first to the biscuit. He fired quickly on net and the shot deflected off of a repositioning Parsons and in for a 3-1 advantage.
The U18s pulled to within one just 54 seconds into the third period as Baker caught the Saints off-guard for his second score of the season. Humphreys cleared the defensive zone and pushed the puck up to Eiserman. He found Baker along the right wing, who put his shot off a sprawling Reidler and in to make it a 3-2 contest.
Team USA brought it back to even with a shorthanded marker, buoyed by the hard forecheck of Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.). Ziemer picked up a loose puck near center ice and charged towards the net. He got a shot off that Reidler stopped, but Kamil Bednarik (Chicago, Ill.) followed up to tie the game at 3-3.
Forty-three seconds later, the U18s took their first lead of the game with an all-out effort play from Baker for his second marker of the afternoon. He forced a turnover, sped the length of the ice and after he drew a penalty, managed his shot through the five-hole of Reidler for a 4-3 USA lead.
Dubuque continued the third-period frenzy when Michael Barron potted his quick snapper over the shoulder of Parsons to tie the game at four goals apiece. The score came nine seconds after Baker's and was the fourth goal in the first half of the third frame.
With the net empty late in regulation, the U18s found the tying score from a wicked wrister off the twig of Hagens, his first score of the campaign. Cole Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) set him up with a clean look from the top of the left circle and Hagens made no mistake with his pinpoint snipe.
Parsons denied Dubuque captain Jake Sondreal with a right-pad kick save late in regulation to push the game to overtime.
Early in the extra session, Ziemer found himself on a breakaway and seemingly scored the game-winning goal, but Reidler's mask had come undone and the officials ultimately decided on a penalty shot as the outcome of the play. Ziemer went with the forehand attempt, but Reidler turned it aside as the game continued.
Hensler's goal did win it for Team USA as the U18s completed a wild comeback.
The Under-18 Team returns to the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex ice tomorrow afternoon to finish the USHL Fall Classic against the Omaha Lancers. Puck drop is set for 2:30 p.m. ET from Cranberry Twp., Pennsylvania.