OSTRAVA, Czechia - LJ Mooney (West Mifflin, Pa.) scored a hat-trick and Jacob Kvasnicka (Plymouth, Minn.) added two goals as the U.S. National Under-17 Team scored seven unanswered to down Finland, 8-4, here today inside RT Torax Arena in it's first game of the 2024 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament. Asher Barnett (Wilmette, Ill.) was named the U.S. Player of the Game.
Mooney was the first to light the lamp on a U.S. powerplay. Will Moore (Ithaca, N.Y.) got a shot off, but it bounced off the pad of Jooa Sammalniemi. Jack Murtagh (East Greenbush, N.Y.) chipped the puck loose off the rebound to Mooney, who dangled through two Finnish skaters to rip a wrister past Sammalniemi at 7:26.
The Finns responded just 29 seconds later as Eetu Orpana flipped a wrister over the shoulder of Joey Slavick (Westland, Mich.). Jasu Mensonen then doubled the Finnish lead, picking up his own rebound from just outside the paint and slipping it past Slavick.
Veeti Ruotsalainen made it a 3-1 game with a shot from the right wing with 5:39 to play in the period, then Mensonen added a fourth with a shot from the point in the final 1:44.
The U.S. cut the lead in half with a rebound score by Kvasnicka. Asher Barnett (Wilmette, Ill.) fired an attempt from the slot, and Kvasnicka scooped up the rebound for a quick goal 4:01 into the middle frame.
Andrew O'Neill (Fargo, N.D.) brought Team USA within one just 1:20 later, streaking off the bench on a shift change, picking up a Donny Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) stretch pass and beating Sammalniemi with a forehand-backhand move.
Kvasnicka found the equalizer with 1:46 to play in the period, grabbing the rebound of an initial shot by Cole McKinney (Lake Forest, Ill.), who was set up by Drew Shock (Green Bay, Wis.) for a power-play marker.
Mooney regained the U.S. lead just 13 seconds into the final stanza, stealing the puck off the stick of a Finnish defender in the zone and rifling one from the left circle.
Barnett made it a 6-4 game with his first of the tournament. Conrad Fondrk (White Bear Lake, Minn.) carried the puck along the back wall and found Carter Amico (Westbrook, Maine) at the point. He fed it to Barnett, who sniped a one-timer just shy of the period's halfway mark.
Fondrk added one of his own with 4:50 to go in the contest with an empty net tally set up by McKinney, then Mooney completed his hat-trick as Cullen Potter (Minneapolis, Minn.) poked the puck free from the Finns and sent it to him along the boards. He picked it up in the neutral zone and went top shelf to bring the final tally to 8-4.
Slavick had 10 saves in the opening frame, while Patrick Quinlan (Kenett Square, Pa.) played the final 40, stopping all 29 shots he faced.
The U17s, now 1-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in tournament play, have a day off tomorrow before taking on Sweden on Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET from Buly Arena in Kravaře, Czechia.