MADISON, Wis. - Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) each notched two goals and added two assists as the U.S. National Under-18 Team cruised past the Madison Capitols, 9-2, here tonight at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. These two squads will square up again tomorrow in a rematch to close out the two-game mini series.
Matthews put the U.S. on the board first just 55 seconds into the contest when he skated to the net and knocked in a pass from Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.). The Capitols answered to tie the game at 14:42, but Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio) notched a power-play tally in the final half of the frame to give the Under-18 Team a 2-1 lead after the opening period. Chad Krys (Ridgefield, Conn.) started the play by working the puck to Matthews, who quickly dished it to Roslovic in the slot. Roslovic one-timed the puck into the net for the score.
A four-goal middle period helped Team USA build a 6-2 advantage after 40 minutes. Grant Gabriele (Brighton, Mich.) scored with 11:42 left in the frame on a slap shot from the high slot. Krys and Matthews earned helpers on the play. Then, after Madison scored to make it 3-2 at 13:02, Bracco finished a well-executed play by tapping a Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) feed into a yawning net 44 seconds later to double the U.S. advantage at 4-2. Jordan Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y.) was credited with the secondary assist on the goal. White joined the scoring party with 3:42 remaining in the second stanza when he found space in the left circle and put a perfectly placed wrister into the back of the net. Joseph Masonius (Spring Lake, N.J.) and Bracco assisted. Then, with just 68 seconds left before the intermission, Bracco scored his second of the night - this time on a power play - with help from Gabriele and Greenway.
Casey Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass.) scored an unassisted goal at the midway point of the final frame to give the U.S. a 7-2 lead. Matthews collected a rebound and scored at the 12:27 mark to give the U.S. an 8-2 lead with help from Charles McAvoy (Long Beach, N.Y.) and Bracco before Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) one-timed a Nicholas Boka (Plymouth, Mich.) pass into the net on a power play to close the scoring. Tage Thompson (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) registered the second assist on the tally.
Goaltender Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) started in net and stopped 16 shots in 50:19 of work. Gavin Hubbard (Davidsonville, Md.) played the final 9:41 of the contest and turned away all four shots he faced.
The U.S. National Under-18 Team and Madison clash once more tomorrow (Feb. 21) night at 8 p.m. ET. The contest will be held at Veterans Memorial Coliseum and can be seen live online at FASTHockey.com.
Team USA outshot the Capitols, 43-22 ... The Under-18s were successful on four of five power play tries while Madison went 1-4 ... This weekend marks the final games between the National Team Development Program and Madison in 2014-15. The Under-17 Team split a two-game set against the Capitols last weekend in Ann Arbor, winning, 4-3, in overtime Friday before falling, 6-3, in the series finale ... NTDP product Ryan Suter (Madison, Wis./2001-03) is the Capitols’ team chairman.
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