Photo by Maxwell LeBuis
UTICA, N.Y. - Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) recorded his fourth hat-trick of the season and Nick Kempf (Chicago, Ill.) made 37 strong saves as the U.S. National Under-18 Team topped the Utica Pioneers, 7-1, Friday night at Adirondack Bank Center.
The U18s got the scoring started early as Teddy Stiga (Sudbury, Mass.) connected less than five minutes in. Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) batted the puck into the attacking zone and a Pioneers defender misplayed the bouncing rubber. Stiga grabbed it and flipped a quick backhand shot in for a 1-0 lead on his eighth score of the season.
The U18s made it three in a row with a power-play tally off the stick of Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.) with 5:58 remaining in the first. Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) sent the puck below the goal line to Kamil Bednarik (Chicago, Ill.), who one-touched it to McMorrow in the slot for a 3-0 lead.
A pretty give-and-go play with Ziemer and Kristian Epperson (Mequon, Wis.) extended the U.S. lead to four less than a minute into the second frame. Stiga dug the puck out from behind the Team USA cage and fired a sharp pass to Ziemer to start the break. He gave to Epperson and got the puck back for a clean look and 4-0 lead.
Eiserman made it a multi-goal night near the midway mark of the third. Ziemer won an offensive-zone draw right to Eiserman, who circled the zone and flicked a quick wrister from the center point that bounced off a Utica defender and in.
Shortly after, Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) added his name to the goal column after he finished a breakaway with a quick wrist-shot over the glove of Ethan Roberts. Ziemer earned another helper on the 6-0 score.
Eiserman completed the hat-trick, his fourth in 10 games played this season, after he charged down the left wing and deposited his snapshot in the far-side corner.
Utica's Eric Vitale spoiled the shutout bid and put the Pioneers on the board with 1:50 to play in regulation for the 7-1 final.
After posting a career-high 47 saves last weekend in Boston, Kempf finished his night with 37 saves to turn in back-to-back stalwart efforts. He ran his record to 4-1-0 on the campaign with the win tonight.
The U18s complete their weekend tomorrow night at Cornell University. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. from Lynah Rink in Ithaca, New York, and the game will be streamed live on ESPN+.