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U18s Drop 2024 Opener to Minnesota, 3-2

By USA Hockey's NTDP, 01/01/24, 5:00PM EST


Plante and Eiserman tally for Team USA in loss

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The U.S. National Under-18 Team netted a pair of goals from Max Plante (Hermantown, Minn.) and Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) in the final period, but could not bring the game back to even in a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers Monday afternoon at 3M Arena at Mariucci. 

After a mini-barrage of shots from Team USA to open the game, Minnesota connected on its first shot of the contest to take an early lead. Garrett Pinoniemi redirected a Cal Thomas point shot and snuck it by USA netminder Jack Parsons (Ithaca, N.Y.) for a 1-0 advantage. 

The Golden Gophers' Aaron Huglen was awarded the second goal of the game at 8:29 of the period off of a video review. Huglen, a righty, drove down his off-wing and one-handed an attempt in prior to crashing into Parsons and the backwall. 

The middle 20 minutes went by without a goal from either side, as Minneseota goaltender Nathan Airey made multiple impressive stops, including a point-blank save of Eiserman near the midway mark. 

The U18s finally found the back of the net at 9:09 of the third after Plante sniped a short-side wrister for his seventh score of the season. Kamil Bednarik (Chicago, Ill.) won an offensive-zone draw that Plante picked up and roofed to cut the lead in half. 

A few minutes later, Minnesota's Bryce Brodzinski snapped a quick-release shot from the top of the right circle to restore the home side's two-goal advantage. 

Eiserman brought the U18s back within a score with 3:22 left in regulation. After Team USA won a board battle, Logan Hensler (Woodbury, Minn.) pushed it to to Plante, who found Eiserman cutting through the slot where he sent an absolute rifle past Airey to bring it back to 3-2. 

The Under-18 Team pulled Parsons late in regulation for an extra attacker, and while they managed multiple opportunities in the offensive zone, including an uncontested slot shot from Hensler, time expired as the final score remained 3-2. 

Parsons finished his afternoon with 20 saves.

The U18s return to Michigan, but continue with their Kroger College Series next weekend. They travel to East Lansing, Mich., to take on the Michigan State Spartans Friday night before returning to a sold out USA Hockey Arena on Saturday to host the Michigan Wolverines. 

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