EAST LANSING, Mich. — Not a bad start for the U.S. Under-18 Team. Michigan State was probably hoping for a better result.
In its first game against a collegiate opponent, the national team defeated the No. 5 Spartans, 6-4, on Tuesday in an exhibition.
Bryan Miller scored the eventual game-winner at 12 minutes, 50 seconds of the third period, beating Michigan State goaltender Ryan Miller, who split time with starter Joe Blackburn.
Barry Tallackson scored an insurance goal less than two minutes later for a 6-4 lead.
“I hope this will open a lot of people’s eyes to just how talented players in this program are,” U.S. coach Mike Eaves said.
It looked like it would be a long night for Team USA early in the first period as the Spartans jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game.
Rustyn Dolyny and Adam Hall scored to put the Spartans ahead, but the national team equalized with goals from Tallackson and Lee Falardeau by the 8:19 mark of the first.
Steve Jackson’s goal gave Michigan State a 3-2 lead at 12:03 of the first period.
U.S. forward Eric Nystrom opened the second period with a goal, tying the game at 3 just under two minutes into the period. The teams exchanged goals to tie the game at four going into the third period.
The game was the first against a college opponent for the Under-18 team, which is playing a mix of United States Hockey League, college, and international competition this season.
“The team showed a lot of maturity tonight,” Eaves said. “Every line went out and played as a unit. We made key plays at key times with every unit contributing.”
U.S. goaltender Travis Weber stopped 39 shots. Blackburn made eight saves in 31:56. He allowed four goals before making way for Miller, who allowed two and made six saves.