SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The U.S. Under-18 Team put on a special teams exhibition Friday night at the Joyce Center as its special teams accounted for five of the team’s seven goals on the way to a 7-2 win over Notre Dame in exhibition action for the Irish.
Made up of some of the most talented hockey players in the United States under the age of 18, Team USA snapped a 1-1 tie with a pair of second-period short-handed goals to build a 4-1 lead and then closed the game with three power-play tallies to put the game out of reach.
Ryan Stoa and Phil Kessel each scored twice and Team USA got single goals from Jack Skille, Jason Lawrence and Jack Johnson on the way to the 7-2 victory that improved the squad’s overall record to 14-4-2. They are also 4-2-2 this season against Division I collegiate teams.
Notre Dame got goals from Josh Sciba and Tim Wallace in the game. Both those players are former alums of the U.S. Under-18 Team.
“It was a tough night all-around for us,” said Irish head coach Dave Poulin. “We let our goaltenders out there all alone tonight. The shots (29-27 in favor of Team USA) were misleading too. They had quality chances all night long.”
The evening started out fine for the Irish as Sciba scored at 14:24 of the opening period to give Notre Dame the 1-0 lead. Wes O’Neill fired a long pass for Sciba that the Westland, Mich., native beat U.S. goaltender Jeff Frazee to behind the net. He then came out from behind the goal and tucked it in the net before Frazee could dive back and cover the net.
Twenty-two seconds later, Team USA scored the first of four unanswered goals as Stoa picked up his first of the night at 14:46 to tie the game at 1-1 after one period of play.
Stoa then put the U.S. ahead just 1:15 into the second period when he and forward Nathan Gerbe stole the puck in the slot and Stoa tucked it between David Brown’s pads for a 2-1 lead.
The score would stay that way until the Irish went on the power play at 7:52 of the period. This time it was Kessel’s turn to steal the puck in the slot. He cruised in on Brown, made a nice move and flipped the puck into the back of the net for a 3-1 lead.
“The two short-handed goals were the game. We just couldn’t bounce back from that,” said Poulin.
Skille made it a 4-1 lead at 10:11 before Wallace answered for the Irish on the power play at 12:18 and Notre Dame trailed, 4-2 after two periods.
The third period was all power-play goals for the U.S. Team. Kessel made it 5-2 on a deflection in front of Morgan Cey at 6:12.
Jason Lawrence banged home the rebound of a Kessel shot at 13:47 on a five-on-three power play and defenseman Jack Johnson whipped one past Cey from between the hash marks 51 seconds later at 14:38 to close the scoring at 7-2. One of the assists on Johnson’s goal went to defenseman Kyle Lawson who signed a national letter-of-intent earlier this week to attend Notre Dame starting with the 2006-07 season.
Frazee made 25 saves in goal for the Under-18 Team. Brown played the first 28:02, making eight saves and giving up three goals to take the loss. Cey played 31:58 and made 14 saves while giving up four goals on the night.
Team USA was 3-for-10 on the power play while Notre Dame was just 1-for-12.
The Irish (2-5-4 overall and 1-4-3 in the CCHA) return to action next week when they travel to Fairbanks, Alaska to face the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks on Nov. 26-27.