ITHACA, N.Y. - Behind a multi-goal night from Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.), the U.S. National Under-18 Team erased a four-goal deficit, but could not come all the way back in an eventual 5-4 overtime defeat to the Cornell Big Red Saturday evening at Lynah Rink in Central New York.
The Big Red hit the scoreboard first as Kyle Penney found the back of the net while shorthanded. Cornell converted off a Team USA defensive-zone turnover and Penney's backhand snuck by Jack Parsons (Ithaca, N.Y.) for an early 1-0 lead.
Cornell made it two in a row after Jacob Kraft converted from the right circle on a 5-on-3 advantage and Ryan Walsh scored on the ensuing power play to make it 3-0 less than halfway through the opening period.
Nick DeSantis roofed a crafty backhand attempt to push the lead to four goals with 7:36 to play in the first.
Team USA got on the board via an Eiserman power-play score early in the middle frame. Logan Hensler (Woodbury, Minn.) found Cole Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) on the top of the left circle. He went across the crease for Eiserman, who ripped his shot off goaltender Ian Shane's helmet and in for his 17th score of the year.
Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) had a great chance directly after the expiration of a Team USA power play with a one-timer from the right circle, but Remington Keopple made the save and dove on top to cover up without a second chance allowed.
The U18s did earn the game's next goal to bring the deficit down to two as Luke Goukler (Cumming, Ga.) put home an attempt on an empty net. Shane Vansaghi (St. Louis, Mo.) chipped the puck out of a net-front scramble to Hutson at the left circle. He faked the one-timer and slid a slap-pass to Goukler, who had nothing but net to shoot on to make it a 4-2 game with 11:07 to play.
Team USA cut the lead to just a goal after Teddy Stiga's (Sudbury, Mass.) spin-o-rama score from the slot at 14:01 of the third. Kristian Epperson (Mequon, Wis.) found John Whipple (Minnetonka, Minn.) at the top of the zone. The defenseman sent the puck towards the net and Stiga steadied, spun and finished five-hole for his ninth score of the campaign.
The Under-18 Team worked the game back to even with 2:11 to play in regulation. Stiga deflected a Cornell clearing attempt, turned and found a cutting Eiserman, who fired in for his second score of the night to force an overtime period.
The U18s nearly completed the comeback as Eiserman went in on a breakaway in overtime, but Koepple was up to task to deny him of a hat-trick on back-to-back nights.
George Fegaras won it for the home team just over three minutes into the 3-on-3 session after he outlasted Parsons and flipped in for a 5-4 Cornell victory.
After allowing four goals in the opening 12-plus minutes, Parsons settled into a solid performance in net, finishing with 29 saves on the night.
The U18s return home for a single game next weekend, Saturday evening against the Madison Capitols. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET from USA Hockey Arena and tickets are available at USAHockeyNTDP.com/tix or by calling the box office at 734-453-8400.