YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) registered two points (1-1), including the game-winning goal, as the U.S. National Under-18 Team topped the Youngstown Phantoms, 4-2, here tonight at the Covelli Centre. With the win, Team USA's record improves to 17-16-1 (W-L-OTL) in the United States Hockey League.
Youngstown opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 7:50 of the first period. J.J. Piccinich, who skated for the U18s on Dec. 31, 2013, versus Miami University, was the goal scorer.
Nolan Stevens (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) pulled the U.S. even at 2:05 of the second stanza. Shane Gersich (Chaska, Minn.) collected the loose puck off a Phantoms miscue near the attacking blueline and fired a shot at Youngstown's net. Stevens redirected the puck past Sean Romeo for the tally. Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.) made 12 saves in the period to keep the game knotted at one entering the final frame.
Team USA took its first lead of the game just 1:01 into the final stanza when Ryan Bliss (Chelmsford, Mass.) intercepted a pass and fired the puck under the cross bar. Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.) and Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) earned helpers on the play. Youngstown struck back 49 seconds later, but Eichel swatted in the eventual game-winner at 5:02. Louie Belpedio (Skokie, Ill.) fired the initial shot on net from the point and Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) collected the rebound for a second chance. Eichel skated in and buried the loose puck to take a 3-2 lead. Milano added an empty net goal with 1:17 remaining to secure the 4-2 victory.
Weyrick made 26 saves in the win for Team USA, while Romeo kicked out 22 shots for Youngstown in the loss.
The U.S. National Under-18 Team will travel west to visit in-state rivals, the Muskegon Lumberjacks, on Saturday night. Puck drop will take place at L.C. Walker Arena beginning at 7:15 p.m. EST. Live streaming coverage of the game is available at FASTHockey.com.
With an assist tonight, Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) extended his USHL point streak to nine games dating back to Oct. 30, 2013. Larkin has 13 points (7-6) over that span ... Youngtown's roster features two players with family ties to the NTDP: Alex Carle and Matt Miller. Both players have brothers who skated in Ann Arbor prior to the NHL. Matt Carle (Anchorage, Alaska/2000-02) and J.T. Miller (East Palestine, Ohio/2009-11) now skate for the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers respectively ... Follow the NTDP on Twitter ... Like the NTDP on Facebook ... Download the Sport Ngin Mobile App for Apple iOS and Android devices and follow the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams. Fans, parents, athletes, and coaches now have unprecedented access to scores, stats, schedules, photos, and more. The app is free and allows users to track scores and news updates from one team. Those wishing to follow more than one team can make a simple in-app purchase of $1.99. Click here to download the app.
U.S. National Under-18 Team
Jack Eichel (1 goal, 1 assist)
Trey Bradley (1 goal)
U.S. National Under-18 Team
Ryan Bliss (1 goal)