Photo by Rena Laverty
After the first 20 combined shots of the night were stopped by USA's Jack Parsons (Ithaca, N.Y.) and Switzerland's Christian Kirsch, the U18s finally broke the ice with less than a minute to play in the opening period. On a 3-on-1 breakout, Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) found Stiga for the first shot that was pushed aside by Kirsch. But Kamil Bednarik (Chicago, Ill.) was waiting on the doorstep for the put-back score to give Team USA a lead into the first intermission.
The same trio of forwards teamed up to double the lead just 25 seconds into the middle stanza. Stiga broke up an attempted Swiss breakout and ended up with the first shot of a drop-pass from Bednarik. Kirsch made a pad save but Ziemer made no mistake on the second chance to extend the lead to 2-0.
Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) made it three in a row for Team USA on home ice with a power-play marker at 3:09. Max Plante (Hermantown, Minn.) was first to a puck that was chipped up high in the air. He found Eiserman stationed at the right circle, where he wired a one-timer past Kirsch for his 35th score of the season.
Switzerland ended the U.S. run after Jamiro Reber found Nolan Cattin on a 2-on-1 break, who deposited his shot in the back of the net to make it a 3-1 game.
Team USA answered the score just 44 seconds later as Stiga intercepted a pass and ripped a wrister over the glove of Kirsch for his third point of the game.
Stiga made it back-to-back scores as he notched another less than three minutes later. Dakoda Rheaume-Mullen (Northville, Mich.) grabbed the puck before it left the attacking zone, wove in between a pair of Swiss defenders and found Stiga for a one-timer from the right circle.
Defenseman Cole Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) used some great stick-handling to carve an open lane for his shot through the five-hole of Kirsch to close the second. He was set up by Lucas Van Vliet (Livonia, Mich.) and John Whipple (Minnetonka, Minn.) to take a 6-1 lead after 40 minutes of action.
USA's Austin Baker (White Lake, Mich.) added a late power-play score with just 37 seconds to play for the 7-1 final. Will Skahan found a waiting Baker right on the doorstep and the future Spartan potted his first of the tournament. Rheaume-Mullen picked up his second helper of the night on the play.
Parsons finished his evening with 19 saves on 20 Swiss shots.
The U.S. returns to the ice tomorrow to take on Finland. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. from USA Hockey Arena. Tickets are available by calling the USA Hockey Arena box office at 734-453-8400 or by visiting USAHockeyNTDP.com/fivenations.