Photo by Rena Laverty
KRAVARE, Czech Republic - John Beecher (Elmira, N.Y.), Cole Caufield (Stevens Point, Wis.), Michael Gildon (Plano, Texas) and Jack Hughes (Orlando, Fla.) each tallied two goals for the U.S. National Under-18 Team in its 8-2 victory against Sweden in the opening game of the Under-18 Five Nations Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Buly Arena.
Hughes earned the Player of the Game honor for Team USA ... Team USA went 0-for-1 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill ... All games will be available via live stream here … The official tournament website can be found here ... Team USA's home page for the tournament can be accessed here ... Follow @USAHockeyNTDP on Twitter for tournament updates and join the conversation on social media by using #5NationsU18 ... John Wroblewski (Neenah, Wis.) is leading the U.S. National Under-18 Team alongside associate coach Dan Hinote (Elk River, Minn.), intern assistant coach Kevin Lind (Homer Glen, Ill.) and director of player personnel Kevin Reiter (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
Hughes also drew an assist in the game. Defensemen Drew Helleson (Farmington, Minn.) and Alex Vlasic (Wilmette, Ill.) contributed two assists each.
Sweden outshot Team USA, 11-9, in the first period, but the U18s led, 3-1, after twenty minutes of play.
Caufield scored twice in a span of 0:27 to give the U18s a 2-0 lead in the first period. His first goal came at 7:32 when he took a pass from Case McCarthy (Clarence Center, N.Y.) and scored from the right circle with a shot past Swedish netminder Hugo Alnefelt. Caufield struck again at 7:59, accepting Vlasic’s stretch pass out of the Team USA zone in full flight into Swedish territory and snapping the shot from the left circle and inside the far post, past Alnefelt.
After Alexander Popovic scored for Sweden at 11:09 of the first period, Team USA struck again on Beecher’s shot from the left circle at 16:55 to lead 3-1. Helleson drew the lone assist on the goal.
The U18s outshot Sweden, 16-6, in the second period.
Gildon opened the scoring at 6:36 second period to give the U18s a 4-1 lead. Hughes accepted Caufield’s pass, carried the puck through traffic in the Swedish zone and shot the puck from the hash-marks toward the net. Gildon redirected the puck just outside the Swedish blue ice past Alnefelt.
U18 goaltender Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn.) made an excellent stop with about five minutes left in the second period, staying with Sweden’s Max Wahlgren with a sliding save to his left to keep the score 4-1.
Sweden cut the Team USA lead to 4-2 on Arvid Costmar’s power play goal at 16:17, scoring from the left circle.
Team USA scored four unanswered goals in the third period to put the game away.
Gildon scored his second of the game at 1:48 of the third period, redirecting Helleson’s low shot from the right point. Hughes extended the Team USA lead to 6-2 at 6:07, scoring a shorthanded goal from beyond the Swedish goal line, banking a shot from the end boards off of Alnefelt. Hughes scored his second of the period at 15:04, accepting Vlasic’s pass from behind the net and scoring with a shot from the lower rim of the left circle. Beecher completed the scoring at 16:51 with his second of the game, sweeping a loose puck just outside the Swedish blue ice into the net.
Knight did his part with his best stop of the game midway through the third period, sliding to his left to rob Wahlgren again, back-door at the near post.
The U18s outshot Sweden, 41-27, in the game. Knight played the entire game for the U18s, stopping 25-of-27 shots to earn his first international victory of the season.
Team USA sits atop the standings after the first game and will face the Czech Republic in its second matchup of the tournament at 1 p.m. ET tomorrow.