ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) scored two goals and Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) tallied one goal and recorded one assist, but the U.S. National Under-18 Team was edged by the Muskegon Lumberjacks, 6-4, in United States Hockey League action at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.
Muskegon built a 3-0 lead by the 11:13 mark of the opening frame, but a Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill.) goal at 14:43 gave Team USA momentum heading into first intermission. With the Under-18 Team on the power play, Bracco sent a pass to Fischer at the edge of the crease. Fischer fought through a defender and redirected the puck past Muskegon goaltender Michael Latorella. Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) also assisted on the play.
Bracco scored on a breakaway just 48 seconds into the second stanza to pull the U.S. to within one goal. Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) made an outlet pass to spring Bracco, who deked and slid the puck through Latorella’s pads. Steven Ruggiero (Kings Park, N.Y.) registered the secondary assist on the play. Then, just 50 seconds later, Kunin knotted the score when he blasted a shot from the right circle into the top corner. Jordan Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y.) and Christian Evers (Waukee, Iowa) collected assists on the game-tying tally.
Kunin scored again at 8:44 to give Team USA a 4-3 advantage. After creating a turnover at center, Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio) dished to Kunin in the offensive zone. Kunin gathered the puck and send a well-placed shot over Latorella’s shoulder.
The Lumberjacks rallied for three goals in a row – one prior to the conclusion of the second period and two in the final stanza – to skate away with the 6-4 victory. Team USA pulled goaltender Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) in favor of the extra attacker, but could not find the back of the net before time expired on the contest.
Lackey turned away 14 shots in the loss for the U.S., while Latorella made 24 saves in the victory for Muskegon.
The U.S. National Under-18 Team is off until Saturday (Oct. 4) when it travels to Oxford, Ohio, to play Miami University. The game – Team USA’s first against NCAA Division I competition this season – is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.
Team USA outshot Muskegon, 28-20 … The Under-18 Team was 1-for-6 on the power play, while the Lumberjacks were 0-for-5 ... Luke Kunin has three goals in two games played within the USHL ... Christian Fischer has one goal in back-to-back games ... Auston Matthews recorded three assists in the two opening USHL contests ... Matthew Tkachuk registered one point in each game this weekend, scoring one goal and adding one assist.
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