Photo by Rena Laverty
PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Shane Vansaghi (St. Louis, Mo.) connected for his first goal of the season, but the U.S. National Under-18 Team could not muster enough offense in a 5-2 loss to the Madison Capitols Saturday night at USA Hockey Arena.
The visitors wasted no time getting on the board as Max Nagel connected on their first shot of the game. He cleaned up a loose puck in front of the USA cage and flipped it over the shoulder of Jack Parsons (Ithaca, N.Y.) for a lead 39 seconds into the contest.
The U18s worked it back to even at 12:48 off a beautiful set-up from Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.) to Kamil Bednarik (Chicago, Ill.). Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) worked it to McMorrow, who toe-dragged a Capitols defender and slid a backhand pass for Bednarik alone in front.
Parsons kept the game knotted up with a tremendous save late in the opening frame. Andrew Kuzma used a spinning, no-look pass to find Chris Delaney in front, but Parsons was able to glove the redirection attempt for one of his five saves in the period.
Team USA pulled in front at 7:09 of the second after Vansaghi used a power move to convert right in front of the Madison cage. Lucas Van Vliet (Livonia, Mich.) managed possession out of a scramble and fed Vansaghi skating the right wing. He went wide around the defenseman, pulled back to the crease and finished with a quick backhand through the five-hole of Patriks Berzins for a 2-1 lead.
Madison responded with a pair of goals in 29 seconds to regain the lead at 3-2. The first came from captain Ethan Elias, who fired a quick wrister from the right circle. NTDP alum Austin Burnevik followed quickly with a second-chance effort in front of the cage to put the Capitols back on top.
Team USA controlled the tempo for the majority of the third period, starting off by outshooting the Capitols, 8-1. Madison made its second shot of the period count, though, as defenseman Charlie Michaud found paydirt from the left circle for the game's first two-goal lead at 4-2.
The U18s pulled Parsons for an extra attacker with over four minutes to play in regulation, but Elias found the open net from his own defensive zone to give Madison the 5-2 win.
The U18s will break for their first international tournament of the season, a Five Nations in Hämeenlinna, Finland. Their first game is set for 8:00 a.m. ET on Thursday when they square off with Sweden.