Photo by Rena Laverty
PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Lucas Van Vliet (Livonia, Mich.), Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Kamil Bednarik (Chicago, Ill.) and Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) all finished with five or more points, including Van Vliet's four-goal performance, as the U.S. National Under-18 Team rolled through the Adrian Bulldogs, 13-1, Wednesday evening at USA Hockey Arena.
The U18s raced out to an early lead as they lit the lamp on each of their first two shots of the game. Humphreys netted first after he deflected a Bednarik shot from the slot past Jackson Bernard for a Team USA lead. Noah Lapointe (Hinsdale, Ill.) collected the secondary helper on the 1-0 goal.
Twenty-eight seconds later, James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) broke towards the crease and one-touched a Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) pass off a rush to give the U18s a 2-0 advantage that would hold for the opening 20.
The U18s picked up the tempo in the middle frame, pushing across four more goals that began with Humphreys' second of the evening. Bednarik pushed the puck off an Adrian stick right to Eiserman. He left if at the blue line for Humphreys, who raced in alone and fired top corner for a 3-0 lead less than two minutes into the second.
Van Vliet added his name to the goal column as he drove the left wing and fired a missile from the top of the left circle off of feeds from Charlie Pardue (Winnetka, Ill.) and Shane Vansaghi (St. Louis, Mo.).
Two minutes after, Eiserman and Humphreys ran a 2-on-1, which ended with the former sliding the puck past Bernard to knock him out of the game. The score was Eiserman's team-leading 23rd of the season.
The home team made it six straight scores after Van Vliet carved in and out of the Adrian defense and ripped his wrister in the top corner at 11:38.
USA netminder Jack Parsons (Ithaca, N.Y.) turned aside nine more shots in the middle frame to make him a perfect 15-15 through 40 minutes.
With Team USA shorthanded to begin the third, Van Vliet converted 11 seconds into the period for his first career hat-trick. Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) forced a turnover and centered for Van Vliet, who fired across his body for the 7-0 U.S. advantage.
The Bulldogs ruined Parsons' shutout bid with 15:02 to play in regulation as Northville, Mich., native John Kaljian's shot deflected off a skate and in.
The U18s added a half-dozen more scores in the final 10 minutes of regulation including a full hat-trick from Bednarik. In addition, Eiserman collected his second of the game, Vansaghi lit the lamp and Van Vliet closed it out with his fourth score of the evening as Team USA won 13-1.
Parsons finished his night with 22 stops to earn his sixth win of the season in net.
After the holiday, the U18s return right back to the ice and their Kroger College Series with a Friday matinee against Stevenson University. Puck drop is set for 2:00 p.m. from USA Hockey Arena and tickets are available at USAHockeyNTDP.com/tix or by calling the box office at 734-453-8400.