Jack Eichel was named Team USA's Best Player of the Game after scoring two goals and adding one assist. Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images.
DRUMMONDVILLE, Quebec – Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) netted two goals and added an assist, as the U.S. National Under-17 Team downed Canada's Team Pacific, 6-2, in a pre-tournament game at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge here tonight at Centre Marcel Dionne.
"We stayed consistent with what we wanted to do tonight," said Danton Cole, head coach of the U.S. National Under-17 Team. "The guys did a lot of things right, it was a good start and we need to improve every game moving forward."
Pacific struck first on the power play at 4:34 of the opening frame. Team USA then found itself down two goals after Pacific knocked in the puck at 16:47. Team USA outshot Pacific, 14-5, in the period but could not solve netminder Payton Lee.
Keegan Iverson protects the puck in the corner against Pacific. Photo by Matthew Murnaghan / Hockey Canada Images.
Team USA cut the Pacific lead in half at 5:16 of the second stanza off a Jack Glover (Golden Valley, Minn.) shot from inside the blue line. The power-play tally was assisted on by Nathan Billitier (Spencerport, N.Y.) and Ryan MacInnis (St. Louis, Mo.). Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) next set-up Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb.) in front of the net for Team USA's second power-play goal at 10:11. Eichel collected the second assist on the play. Milano again worked the puck to the top of the goal crease, this time feeding Eichel for the score at 12:31. Eichel's tally, the third U.S. goal scored with the man advantage, gave the U.S. its first lead, 3-2. Ryan Bliss (Bedford, N.H.) also assisted on the marker. Austin Poganski (St. Cloud, Minn.) extended the lead for Team USA at 13:45. Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) and Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) registered assists on the play. Eichel broke away to score the fifth U.S. goal of the period, shorthanded, with a backhand shot at 16:19.
Wilkie added another special teams goal at 8:18 of the final frame and the U.S. skated away with a 6-2 victory. Louis Belpedio (Skokie, Ill.) and Bliss collected helpers on the score.
Edwin Minney (WInd Gap, Pa.) and Chris Birdsall (Glen Rock, N.J.) combined to stop 15 shots in the win for Team USA, while Lee and Jordan Papirny turned aside 30 saves in the loss for Pacific.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team will open tournament play against Canada's Team Ontario tomorrow (Dec. 29), in Victoriaville, Quebec at the Colisee Desjardins. Puck drop is slated for 1:30 p.m. EST. A complete schedule can be found below.
NOTES: Jack Eichel was named Team USA's Player of the Game ... Forwards Keegan Iverson (St. Louis Park, Minn.) and Dominic Turgeon (Cherry Hills, Colo.) play for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, while Austin Poganski skates for Cathedral High School in St. Paul, Minn. Netminder Chris Birdsall suits up for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League, while the other 18 players on the roster come from the U.S. National Under-17 Team that is part of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program based in Ann Arbor, Mich. ... The 2013 World Under-17 Challenge includes two pools of five teams. Pool A consists of teams from Finland, Canada's Team Pacific, Russia, Sweden and Canada's Team West. Pool B consists of teams from Canada's Team Atlantic, Canada's Team Ontario, Canada's Team Quebec, Slovakia and the United States ... The U.S. enters the tournament having captured first place three times (2001-02, 2010) and second place in 1999, 2008, 2011, 2012 ... Follow @USAHockeyScores on Twitter for live scoring updates during the tournament. Scores will be designated with #WU17 ... For additional coverage, visit USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Facebook page ... The U.S. National Under-17 Team trains with The Hockey IntelliGym, a revolutionary new software program released on October 1, 2010, that trains hockey sense. To learn more, visit USAHockeyIntelliGym.com.
U.S. National Under-17 Team
Jack Eichel, forward (2 goals, 1 assist)
Conner Bleackley, forward (1 goal)