EAST MEADOW, N.Y. - Four different players scored and goaltender Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) turned aside 23 shots as the U.S. National Under-18 Team skated past the Muskegon Lumberjacks, 5-1, here tonight at Twin Falls Ice Center. The game was a part of the United States Hockey League's Atlantic Challenge, which also features the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and tomorrow's opponent, the Lincoln Stars.
Team USA struck first just past the midway point of the first frame when Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) was awarded a penalty shot. Taking the puck wide to the right of the netminder, Tkachuk skated toward the crease, deked and poked the puck past Muskegon goaltender Eric Schierhorn's right pad. Twenty-nine seconds later, the U.S. doubled its lead when Brendan Warren (Carleton, Mich.) slapped home a Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill.) rebound.
Muskegon scored the lone goal of the second stanza at the 3:26 mark on the power play. Receiving the puck off a behind-the-back pass, Matt Iacopelli lit the lamp to slice the U.S. lead in half.
Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) connected with Warren from behind the net just 1:39 into the third to give Team USA back its two-goal advantage. Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) also earned an assist on the play. The U.S. pushed its lead to three goals when Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) redirected a Steven Ruggiero (Kings Park, N.Y.) shot off the post and in. Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio) closed the scoring when he knocked home a rebound at 13:05 of the final frame.
The U.S. National Under-18 Team returns to action tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET at the USHL Atlantic Challenge. Team USA will face the Lincoln Stars at the Twin Rinks Ice Center in East Meadow, N.Y.
Team USA oustshot Muskegon, 32-24 ... The U.S. went 0-4 on the power play, while Muskegon went 1-5 ... Colin White wore the captain's "C" in today's matchup, while Nicholas Boka (Plymouth, Mich.) and Luke Kunin served as assistant captains ... Steven Ruggiero recorded his first point as a member of the National Team Development Program tonight, with an assist on Luke Kunin's third-period tally ... Follow the NTDP on Twitter, Instagram and like us on Facebook.
1. Luke Opilka, Team USA
2. Matthew Tkachuk, Team USA
3. Brendan Warren, Team USA