Chris Birdsall looks to make a stop on Ontario's Sam Bennett. Photo by JC Pinheiro / Hockey Canada Images.
VICTORIAVILLE, Quebec – Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) notched two goals, as the U.S. National Under-17 Team clipped Canada's Team Ontario in a shootout, 6-5, in its opening game at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge here today at the Colisee Desjardins.
"Our hard work paid off tonight," said Danton Cole, head coach of the U.S. National Under-17 Team. "The guys will take a few minutes to enjoy this, but the most important game in this tournament is the next one and we need to stay focused."
Ontario scored first off a one-timer at 10:55 of the opening frame. The goal was scored with a 5-on-3 advantage after consecutive U.S. penalties were whistled. Team USA was given its own two-man advantage late in the period, but did not convert and entered the first intermission down, 1-0.
Nathan Billitier looks to clear the puck against Ontario. Photo by JC Pinheiro / Hockey Canada Images.
Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y.) knotted the game for Team USA off an offensive zone faceoff just 33 seconds into the second stanza. Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) won the initial draw to create the chance. Ontario struck back at 1:57 to regain the lead, 2-1. The U.S. found itself down two scores after Ontario netted a shorthanded tally at 4:44. Ontario potted its third goal in a row at 11:25 to go up, 4-1, over the Americans. Eichel capitalized on a turnover and deked netminder Brent Moran out of position to cut the Ontario lead in half, 4-2, before time expired on the period.
Team USA started its comeback bid at 2:59 of the third period when Keegan Iverson (St. Louis Park, Minn.) blasted a shot that found the back of the net. Jared Fiegl (Parker, Colo.) and Dominic Turgeon (Cherry Hills, Colo.) assisted on the marker. Eichel scored his second of the game on the power play at 9:14 to tie the game, 4-4, before Ontario regained the lead 22 seconds later. Sonny Milano's (Massapequa, N.Y.) score at 11:39 proved to be the final goal in regulation and the squads entered a five-minute overtime. Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb.) and Jack Glover (Golden Valley, Minn.) recorded assists on Milano's goal.
Ontario put two shots on net in the overtime, while the U.S. had one, but nothing got through and the game would be decided by a shootout. U.S. goaltender Chris Birdsall (Glen Rock, N.J.) stopped all three shooters he faced and Milano scored the lone goal of the shootout to give Team USA the win.
Birdsall made 25 saves in the victory, while Ontario's Moran turned aside 28 shots in the loss.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team continues tournament play against Canada's Team Atlantic tomorrow (Dec. 30), in Victoriaville, Quebec at the Colisee Desjardins. Puck drop is scheduled 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 ... 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.
U.S. National Under-17 Team
Jack Eichel, forward (2 goals)
C. McDavid, forward (1 goal, 2 assists)