MADISON, Wis. - Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) scored one goal and Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) made 17 saves as the U.S. National Under-18 Team burned the University of Wisconsin, 4-1, behind four third-period tallies at the Kohl Center tonight. With the victory, Team USA improves to 6-4-1 (W-L-T) against NCAA Division I and III squads.
Wisconsin found the back of the net first at 2:48 of the opening period. Team USA outshot the Badgers, 13-9, but could not solve netminder Joel Rumpel and entered the intermission trailing by one.
After a scoreless second stanza, Team USA tied the game at 3:39 of the third period. Deking toward the netminder, Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio) dropped a pass back to an open Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) on the right side of the cage. Tkachuk made no mistake and blasted the puck into the twine for the equalizer. A boarding call on the Badgers led to the go-ahead marker for the U.S. Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) rocketed a shot through traffic in front of the net with Charles McAvoy (Long Beach, N.Y.) and Grant Gabriele assisting on the power-play strike. Kunin gave the U18s a two-goal cushion, receiving a Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) feed in the slot and wristing it home. Jordan Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y.) earned the secondary helper. Matthews sealed the victory, 4-1, on an empty netter with time winding down. Greenway registered the lone assist.
The U.S. National Under-18 Team returns to action next weekend (Dec. 19) when it hits the road for one game against United States Hockey League rival Youngstown. Opening face-off is slated for 7:05 p.m. EST at the Covelli Centre and can be seen online at FASTHockey.com.
Team USA outshot Wisconsin, 34-18 … The U18s went 1-4 on the power play while the Badgers went 0-3 … This was the U18's 11th game against NCAA teams this season. The Under-18 Team boasts a 3-3-1 record against Division I squads and a 3-1-0 record when playing Division III programs … The National Team Development Program has produced 22 players who have gone on to skate at Wisconsin. Just four programs - Michigan (36), Notre Dame (32), Minnesota (26) and Boston University (24) - have had more NTDP alumni all-time … Two products of the NTDP are currently playing for the Badgers - Jack Dougherty (Cottage Grove, Minn./2013-14) and Ryan Wagner (Park Ridge, Ill./2013-14) … Luke Kunin and Luke Opilka are committed to play at Wisconsin next season … Under-18 Team head coach Don Granato played for UW from 1987-91, helping the Badgers win the 1990 NCAA Frozen Four title … Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves served in that same role at the NTDP from 2000-02.
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