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U18s Capture Five Nations Championship With 11-3 Win Over Czechia

By USA Hockey's NTDP, 11/12/23, 1:00PM EST


Epperson scores four as Team USA wins first international event of season

Photo by Ronald Hansel

HAMEENLINNA, Finland - Kristian Epperson (Mequon, Wis.) scored four goals and added an assist while the U.S. National Under-18 Team used seven third-period scores to pull away from Czechia and win the 2023 U18 Five Nations, 11-3, Sunday afternoon at Pohjantahti Areena. 

Team USA attacked the scoreboard first as Teddy Stiga (Sudbury, Mass.) collected his fourth goal of the tournament 6:10 into the contest. James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) flipped the puck to Cole Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) in the offensive zone. He went through the crease for Stiga, who finished with a one-timer for the 1-0 lead. 

Box Score

Charlie Pardue (Winnetka, Ill.) made it 2-0 for the U.S. after he connected on a breakaway with just over six minutes to play in the period. EJ Emery (Compton, Calif.) sent the long stretch pass to Pardue, who got in behind the Czech defense and finished five-hole through Adam Ebenstreit. 

The U.S. added a pair of scores in a two-minute span early in the second period to extend the lead to 4-0. Captain Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) finished off a full-line effort from Hagens and Stiga for a tap-in score at the crease.

Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) followed with a monstrous slap-shot from the point on a 4-on-3 Team USA power play. He was set up by Hagens, his third assist of the game, and Logan Hensler (Woodbury, Minn.) on the 4-0 score.

The Czechs stopped the run with a Stepan Hoch wrister from the top of the circles at 4:33. 

Seventy-three seconds into the third, Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.) converted on a backhand attempt in front on the power play to extend the U.S. advantage to 5-1. Kamil Bednarik (Chicago, Ill.) and Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) picked up helpers on the man-up goal. 

Two minutes later, Czechia's Martin Svec scored from the slot off the rush to bring the game back to 5-2. 

Team USA went on to score six more goals in the period en route to an 11-3 final score to win the Five Nations Cup. 

Epperson scored four of those goals to finish with a five-point game and be named Team USA's Player of the Game. 

Jack Parsons (Ithaca, N.Y.) returned to the net and made 20 saves to help lead Team USA to a first-place finish.

The 2006-born age group has now won all four international tournaments it has participated in since starting at the NTDP last season. 

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