Photo by Rena Laverty
For the second straight day, USA forward Eiserman got the game's scoring started as his shot from below the goal line deflected off the Green Bay goaltender, defenseman and in for a 1-0 lead at 1:39. Max Plante (Hermantown, Minn.) set it up with a slick cross-crease pass and John Whipple (Minnetonka, Minn.) also picked up a helper on the opening goal.
James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) quickly made it 2-0 on the U18s' second shot of the evening as he danced through the defense untouched on the power play. Cole Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) started the rush and moved it up to Plante. He found a cutting Hagens who slipped between two defenders and finished five-hole at 2:33 of the first.
The home team added another with 3:15 to play in the first to take a 3-0 lead into the first break. Plante intercepted a Gamblers clearing attempt and kept the puck in the offensive zone. He found Eiserman stationed in front of the net where he jammed his backhand shot through the legs of Gavin Moffat for his 77th career score.
Blake Bechen used a beautiful backhand deke to put Green Bay on the board in the second, but the U18s responded just over a minute later to restore the three-goal advantage. A hard forecheck from Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) forced a turnover. Hagens was first to the puck and found Stiga in the slot, who rifled his wrister top-shelf to make it a 4-1 game.
Stiga made it back-to-back scores as he banged home a shot from the bumper position on the power play. Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) set up the goal with some creative handling along the left wing and Logan Hensler (Woodbury, Minn.) picked up the secondary helper on the 5-1 tally.
Team USA grabbed its sixth goal of the evening as Charlie Pardue (Winnetka, Ill.) rifled a wrister from the left circle off a 2-on-1 rush for his first point of the campaign. Kristian Epperson (Mequon, Wis.) made a nice poke play on the puck to spring Pardue at 14:48 of the second.
Stiga completed the hat-trick early in the third with a pretty backhand shot for the team's third power-play goal of the night. Off of feeds from Kamil Bednarik (Chicago, Ill.) and Humphreys, Stiga went chipped his backhand attempt over the shoulder of Moffat for his first career three-goal game.
After Green Bay grabbed one goal back, Hagens responded on the ensuing faceoff from a great tic-tac-toe passing sequence with Ziemer and Stiga. The score marked Hagens' 11th multi-goal effort with the NTDP.
Eiserman managed his first hat-trick of the season as he slid a quick shot through the five-hole of Moffat and added a fourth with 5:05 to play for the game's 10-3 final.
Jack Parsons (Ithaca, N.Y.) backstopped Team USA in the win, stopping 19 of the 22 shots he faced.
The U18s skate on home ice again next weekend as the Des Moines Buccaneers make their way to Michigan on Friday night. Tickets are available at USAHockeyNTDP.com/tix or by calling the USA Hockey Arena box office at 734-453-8400. Fans can go home with a replica mini-banner that celebrates Team USA's championships at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and 2023 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship.