Photo by Rena Laverty
PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) and Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) finished with a goal and two assists apiece to help lead the U.S. National Under-18 Team to a 5-2 win over the Stevenson University Mustangs Friday afternoon at USA Hockey Arena.
Team USA held a commanding 17-2 lead in shots on net after the first period, but neither team found the back of the net in a goalless frame. James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) had a great chance on a breakaway and drew a penalty, while Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) had the best opportunity of the period on the ensuing power play, but Mustangs goaltender Tommy Aitken put up a clean sheet in the opening 20.
The U18s finally broke through on the scoreboard 6:31 into the second as Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) connected in front. Eiserman centered a feed that glanced off John Whipple's (Minnetonka, Minn.) skate and right to Humphreys, who finished past Aitken for the game's first goal.
Team USA doubled up one second shy of the halfway mark after a strong defensive effort turned into an easy opportunity for Eiserman. Humphreys forced a Mustangs defensive-zone turnover and kicked the puck over to Kamil Bednarik (Chicago, Ill.) The Boston University commit found his current and future teammate with a back-door feed that Eiserman slammed home for a 2-0 lead.
The collegians got on the board 31 seconds later as Evan Beers' shot from the right circle rang off the post and in to cut the lead in half.
Right off the ensuing draw, Team USA combined for a quick play that ended in an Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) one-timer to restore the two goal advantadge. Kristian Epperson (Mequon, Wis.) worked it up to Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.) who slid it over for a Baker blast and 3-1 game.
With 7:56 to play in regulation, Liam McCanney got to a puck that trickled through USA netminder Nick Kempf's (Chicago, Ill.) legs and slammed it in to cut the U.S. lead to one once more.
Less than a minute later, a tic-tac-toe passing display led to a Cole Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) score as Team USA extended the lead back to two. The puck went from Humphreys along the right wing to Eiserman on the left side. He one-touched a quick centering feed for Hutson's fifth score of the season.
Team USA captain Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) added an empty-netter late in regulation for the 5-2 final.
Kempf finished the afternoon with 16 stops to extend his impressive record to 8-1-0 on the year.
The U18s hit the road next as they return to USHL action in Omaha next weekend. They will square off with the Lancers on Friday (8:05 p.m. ET) and Saturday (7:05 p.m. ET) evenings from Liberty First Credit Union Arena in Nebraska.