MINNEAPOLIS - Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) scored with 1:33 remaining in overtime to give the U.S. National Under-18 Team a 5-4 victory over the No. 4-ranked University of Minnesota Golden Gophers at Mariucci Arena tonight.
The win marked the first-ever victory for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program against the University of Minnesota in six all-time meetings.
Jack Glover, who skated at the NTDP from 2012-14, opened the scoring 13:40 into the contest with a seeing-eye shot from the point off a face-off, and teammate Ryan Reilly banked a shot off a U.S. skate to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
Team USA scored twice in the first 6:06 of the middle stanza to bring the contest back to even. Caleb Jones (Frisco, Texas) scored on a quick shot from the slot at 3:36 to cut Minnesota's lead to 2-1. Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) took a long stretch pass at the offensive blue line and walked the puck into the zone before dishing to Brendan Warren (Carleton, Mich.) in the left circle. Warren moved to his right and dropped a pass for Jones, who ripped the puck into the top corner over Gopher goaltender Nick Lehr's glove. Matthews tied the game just 2:30 later on a backhander from the edge of the crease. The play started when the U18s worked the puck from the corner to behind the net, where Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) tapped the puck to Matthews on the goal line. Matthews pulled it around Lehr's stick, moved to his backhand and picked the top corner. Minnesota scored at 13:09 of the period to pull ahead, 3-2, after the second frame.
Joe Masonius (Spring Lake, N.J.) knotted the game at 3-3 seven minutes into the third with a blast from the point. Matthews carried the puck into the zone and left a pass for Troy Terry (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) in the circle. Terry stopped and passed to Masonius at the point to set up the one-timer. Kyle Rau collected a rebound and found the back of the net with 3:55 remaining in regulation to put the Gophers up, 4-3, but Tkachuk picked a corner with just 90 seconds to play in the third to force overtime.
Goaltender Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) started for the U.S. and made 24 saves.
The U.S. National Under-18 Team is back on the ice tomorrow night against NCAA Division III Augsburg College. Puck-drop is at 8:30 p.m. EST in Minneapolis.
Team USA outshot Minnesota, 40-28 … The U18s were 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Gophers were 0-for-3 … Jeremy Bracco tied the National Team Development Program's all-time career assists record tonight with a helper on the first U18 Team goal. His 88 career assists tie him with current Under-18 Team intern assistant coach J.D. Forrest (Auburn, N.Y./1997-2000) and Chicago Blackhawks' winger Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y./2004-06) … The NTDP has produced 26 players who have gone on to play for the University of Minnesota. Just two programs - Michigan (36) and Notre Dame (32) - have had more NTDP alumni ... Five current Gophers played their pre-collegiate puck in Ann Arbor, including Travis Boyd (Hopkins, Minn./2009-11), Ryan Collins (Bloomington, Minn./2012-14), Hudson Fasching (Burnsville, Minn./2011-13), Jack Glover (Golden Valley, Minn./2012-14) and Brady Skjei (Lakeville, Minn./2010- 12).
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