Alex Tuch had one goal and two assists in the victory over Slovakia. Photo by Matthew Murnaghan / Hockey Canada Images.
DRUMMONDVILLE, Quebec – Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y./1-2), Sonny Milano (Massapequa, Mass./2-1) and Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y./1-2) each recorded three-point games, as the U.S. National Under-17 Team upended Slovakia, 7-2, at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge here today at Centre Marcel Dionne. With the win, Team USA clinched the first seed in Pool B as it heads toward the semifinal round. The U.S. finished pool play unbeaten with a 3-1-0-0 (W-OTW-L-OTL) record.
"It's extremely hard to come through these brackets with the first seed," said Danton Cole, head coach of the U.S. National Under-17 Team. "I'm proud of the guys and how we put ourselves in a good position by winning all four games."
Anders Bjork skates into the corner versus Slovakia. Photo by Matthew Murnaghan / Hockey Canada Images.
Milano opened scoring for Team USA less than one minute into the game. Dominic Turgeon (Cherry Hills, Colo.) and Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb.) earned assists on the play. Slovakia responded with a tally at 5:55, taking advantage of a turnover in front of the U.S. net. Jared Fiegl (Parker, Colo.) found Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) open in front of the crease for the go-ahead goal at 9:15. Skating along the boards and making a move toward the slot, Tuch clanked a shot off the crossbar and into the net at 10:35. Milano and Louis Belpedio (Skokie, Ill.) assisted on the marker. Ryan MacInnis (St. Louis, Mo.) notched the fourth Team USA goal at 17:29 with Hitchcock and Tuch earning the helpers.
Slovakia tallied the lone goal of the second period at 9:45 to cut the Team USA lead in half, 4-2. Each squad put six shots on net in the frame.
Hitchcock scored to make it, 5-2, at 3:34 of the final frame. MacInnis and Tuch registered assists on the goal. A blast by Ryan Collins (Bloomington, Minn.) deflected off a Slovak player and into the net at 14:02. Brandon Fortunato (North Hills, N.Y.) and Hitchcock worked the puck to Collins on the power play. Milano capped the day by deking Slovakian netminder Maximilian Pajpach and going to the backhand for the score 38 seconds later. Team USA outshot Slovakia, 22-2, in the frame and claimed victory, 7-2.
Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) turned aside 10 shots in the win for the U.S., while Pajpach made 36 saves in the loss for Slovakia.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team will next compete in the semifinals versus Russia tomorrow (Jan. 3), in Victoriaville, Quebec at the Colisee Desjardins. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. A complete schedule can be found below.
NOTES: Ryan Hitchcock was named Team USA's Player of the Game ... Team USA outshot Slovakia, 43-12 ... The U.S. finished 2-for-5 on the power play, while Slovakia went 0-for-2 with the man advantage ... 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
R. Hitchcock, forward (1 goal, 2 assists)
Adam Hascic, forward (1 goal)