GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Sixteen different players recorded at least one point with 10 skaters recording multi-point efforts as the U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team downed Latvia, 12-1, here today at Ralph Engelstad Arena. With the win, Team USA improves to 3-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L).
James Sanchez (Northbrook, Ill.) opened the scoring for Team USA when he found space behind the defender, pulled up to look for the pass, but instead launched a shot that handcuffed Latvian netminder Niklavs Rauza. Trent Frederic (St. Louis, Mo.) and Matthew Hellickson (Rogers, Minn.) assisted. Just over two minutes later, Joey Anderson (Roseville, Minn.) buried a rebound to double the U.S. advantage, 2-0. Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn.) and J.D. Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y.) recorded helpers on the goal.
The United States lit the lamp just 30 seconds into the second stanza as Logan Brown (Raleigh, N.C.) passed over to Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane, Wash.) on the right side. Yamamoto fired the puck into the cage and the U.S. went up, 3-0. Casey Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie, Minn.) also assisted. After the Latvians scored a shorthanded marker midway through the period, Team USA answered with three goals in the span of 1:09. First, Zach Walker (Boise, Idaho) threw a shot on net, catching Rauza out of position. Keeghan Howdeshell (Brighton, Mich.) and Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y.) collected helpers on the play. Then Frederic used a Sanchez screen to wrist a shot just inside the post.
After a goalie change for Latvia, Fox faked and moved around a defender and went top corner on Gustavs Grigals for Team USA’s sixth goal. Bellows and Clayton Keller (Swansea, Ill.) earned the helpers on the score. Brown set up Yamamoto once again, with the U.S. skating with an extra attacker, and Yamamoto quickly flicked the puck into the net. Luke Martin (St. Louis, Mo.) also assisted. Nick Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla.) capped second period scoring late in the frame with Walker recording the lone assist.
Keller added a goal midway through the final frame to push the U.S. lead to 9-1. Lockwood and Fox earned assists. Keller then set up Bellows as Team USA hit 10 goals on the evening. Frederic notched back-to-back tallies, one on the power play and one shorthanded, to close scoring for Team USA.
Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.) got the start in net for the U.S., stopping 22 shots en route to victory.
The U.S. Men’s Under-18 National Team concludes preliminary play versus Switzerland on Tuesday, April 19. Puck drop is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET.