ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) scored two goals, Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) notched one goal and added two assists and Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) collected three helpers, but the U.S. National Under-17 Team fell to the Chicago Steel, 9-8, in a shootout here tonight at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. Tonight's contest was the first home game for the U17s since November 24, 2013, when Team USA topped the Tri-City Storm, 3-2.
Chicago kicked off the scoring with a power-play goal at the 13:04 marker of the first period. Kunin responded for Team USA 3:32 later with a power-play tally of his own. Charles McAvoy (Long Beach, N.Y.) stood at the point and spun to avoid a Steel defender. McAvoy zipped a pass to Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) on the half boards, who found Kunin with a cross-ice pass for the score. Chicago struck again with 16 seconds remaining to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass.) pulled the U.S. even when he converted with the man advantage just 1:06 into the second stanza. White threw a centering pass from the left hash marks that skipped off the stick of Luke Kirwan (DeWitt, N.Y.) and straight to Hanifin skating through the slot. Hanifin buried the puck high over Cale Morris’s glove. The Steel rattled off three consecutive goals to take a 5-2 lead at 13:45. Kunin teamed up with Bracco and Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) at 15:47 before Grant Gabriele (Brighton, Mich.) connected with Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio) and Jordan Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y.) to pull the U.S. to within one tally at 17:28.
A short-handed goal from White at 3:09 in the final frame knotted the game, 6-6, with Bracco assisting for the second time on the night. Chicago responded with its second power-play goal just 47 seconds later to reclaim the lead. Team USA fired back with three unanswered goals to stake an 8-6 lead. Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill.) sent a wrist shot past Morris at 5:20. Dennis Yan (Troy, Mich.) registered the lone assist. McAvoy tallied the next score for the U.S. at 7:45 and Christian Evers (Waukee, Iowa) followed 17 seconds later after receiving a pass from Gabriele. Two goals from the Steel at 13:22 and 13:44 again reset the game as the two squads were tied.
Five scoreless minutes of overtime gave way to a decisive four-round shootout. White and Hanifin found the back of the net for the U.S., but it was not enough as Chicago added three goals to secure the 9-8 victory.
Team USA goaltenders Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) and Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) combined for 19 saves in the loss for the U.S., while Morris and Chris Nell stopped 45 shots for Chicago in the win.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team is back in action at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube this Sunday (Feb. 16) against the Indiana Ice. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST.
Team USA outshot Chicago, 45-28 ... Follow the NTDP on Twitter and like us 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.
John Schilling (2 goals, 1 assist)
U.S. National Under-17 Team
Luke Kunin (2 goals)
U.S. National Under-17 Team
Jeremy Bracco (3 assists)