The U.S. Under-18 Team appears to be growing up fast.
One day after giving Northeastern a 7-4 thumping, the talented teenagers showed some resiliency against No. 10 Boston University, bouncing back from a 3-1 deficit to pull out a 3-3 tie in front of 4,040 at Agganis Arena.
Stefan Matteau scored the tying goal and assisted on Nikolas Olsson’s third-period equalizer for the U.S. squad, while Matt Nieto notched a goal and an assist for the Terriers.
Jared Rutledge, a Michigan recruit, stopped 45 of 48 shots for the national team.
“In general, I thought we played well; I thought they played well,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “It was a fun game to watch. If I had one negative thing to say about my team, it was that we didn’t shoot the puck enough. Although we attempted 82 shots, we had the puck a lot and overhandled it and tried to get something fine, especially once we made it 3-1, I thought we really got too fine.
“But given them credit. They kept after us, and they’ve got a lot of talented kids who can really get around the rink. I was impressed with their overall team speed and how hard they played.”
The Under-18 Team scored first at 4:49. BU goalie Grant Rollheiser made an initial save, but left wing Matthew Lane roofed the rebound on his backhand. That was good news/bad news for BU, as Lane has made a verbal commitment to become a Terrier next season.
From then on, BU dominated the first period with the help of several power plays, outshooting the visitors by a 17-7 margin.
After U.S. forward Ryan Hartman got tossed for a hit from behind shortly thereafter, BU scored on the ensuing five-minute major. Chris Connolly made a nice pass from the right-wing side to hit freshman Alexx Privitera crashing the net for the one-timer and a goal.
BU made it 2-1 at 13:18 when freshman Evan Rodrigues made a pass from behind the goal line to Nieto at the far post for the tap-in goal.
Seventeen seconds later, BU scored again on a somewhat-similar play. This time, freshman Cason Hohmann made a cross-ice pass from the right-wing side to Sean Escobedo in the left-wing circle. Escobedo has just one collegiate goal, but he fired a wrist shot by Rutledge.
It appeared that a rout might be on, but that was the last time the Terriers scored. The U.S. team made it 3-2 in the second period when Matteau scored on a power play with a backhand shot. Once again, a Terrier recruit factored in the scoring, as defenseman Matt Grzelcyk picked up an assist.
The U.S. team tied it eight minutes into the third period when Olsson fired a laser wrist shot past Rollheiser high on the glove side.
“There were times when we were very casual, I thought, and casualness kept us from winning the game,” Parker said.
BU plays away games at Northeastern and Harvard next weekend, while the U.S. Under-18 team resumes its USHL schedule.