(photo: pucksnack.com)

Over the weekend, the U.S. National Under-18 participated in the round-robin style Four Nations Tournament, held in Sundsvall, Sweden. Team USA went up against Finland, Switzerland and Sweden, besting them all in 3 games of tournament play. The team was undefeated at 3-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L), enough to earn first-place and give the United States its seventh win in the last eight U-18 Four Nations Tournaments. The roster was made up entirely of members of the 2014-15 U.S. National Under-18 Team, part of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program based in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Friday vs. Finland

Team USA got its first tournament win in the form of an 8-1 thrashing over Finland. The United States out-shot Finland by a crushing 51-19, with Finnish goaltender Veini Vehvilainen making 43 saves in the loss. Jeremy Bracco earned a goal and four assists for an incredible five points, and was named the first star of the game. Grant Gabriele recorded the only goal of the first period with a slapshot from a blocked centering pass from Bracco.

Finland’s Juuso Valimaki and Arttu Ruotsalainen each took a penalty simultaneously to give the U.S. a 5-on-3 advantage. Brendan Warren, second star of the game, made them pay when he doubled the lead to 2-0 at 4:31 of the second period. Less than two minutes later, a Finnish turnover would lead to a U.S. goal scored by Troy Terry. Finland would not be shut-out however, and got on the board with a short-handed goal from Jonne TammelaCharlie McAvoy would regain the 3 goal lead on the power play a minute and a half later. At 13:30 Luke Kunin would extend the U.S. lead to 5-1 with assists from Bracco, and third star of the game, Colin White.

Jeremy Bracco earned his fifth point when he scored at 7:04 of the third period. Auston Matthews scored on a feed from Jack Roslovic to make it 8-1 in favor of Team USA. Brendan Warren rounded out the scoring on the power play, with some help from Terry and Michael Floodstrand.

Michael Lackey was the starting goaltender and stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced.

Saturday vs. Switzerland

The following game, Team USA put up another incredible performance, defeating Switzerland 7-1. Luke Opilka got the start in net for the U.S. Saturday, stopping 26 of 27 pucks, and earning him the third star of the game. Matteo Ritz of Switzerland turned away 28 shots of the 35 he faced from Team USA. The Swiss had an ineffective power play in this game, going 0 for 5 on the man advantage, while the Americans scored on two of their six power plays.

Jack Roslovic and Auston Matthews had a great game, netting 3 goals and 3 assists, respectively. That pair opened scoring at 5:53 in the first period when Matthews found the open Roslovic in the slot for a goal. The two connected again less than two minutes later on the power play with Joseph Masonius also drawing an assist. One more time the duo would get on the board when Grant Gabriele set up Roslovic for a one-timer, earning him a hat trick and first star of the game. Matthews got the secondary assist, his third, good enough for second star honors. Christian Fischer put another on the board at 14:08 of the first with a wraparound stuff set up by Jordan Greenway. With only seven seconds left in the first frame, the U.S. would take a commanding 5-0 lead when Michael Floorstrand scored off a rebound from Troy Terry.

The second period was a lot more even. Colin White made it 6-0 USA on the power play, with help from Jeremy Bracco and Luke Kunin. Switzerland got on the board at 18:10 of the second, with a goal from Damien Riat. White put up the only goal of the third period, sealing the game at 7-1. Bracco and Steven Ruggiero drew assists.

Sunday vs. Sweden

The game against Sweden featured familiar heroes as Auston Matthews and Jack Roslovic once again had incredible games, earning the first and second star, respectively. Michael Lackey returned to action between the U.S. pipes, stopping 21 pucks in the 6-4 win. Sweden’s Adam Werner blocked 38 of 44 shots. This was a much tighter game than the previous two for the U.S., with lots of back to back action.

Team USA trailed for the first time all tournament when Sweden opened the scoring on the power play with a goal from Oliver Erixon at 10:19 in the first. The U.S. would get right back, though, less than a minute later with a top shelf goal from Matthews. Not to be outdone, Sweden answered right back only 15 seconds later to regain the lead with a goal by Philip Magnusson. Team USA evened things up again on a power play goal scored by Grant Gabriele with assists from the dynamic duo of Matthews and Roslovic. The back and forth scoring nature of the first period culminated in Sweden’s second power play goal of the game, scored by Carl Grundstrom, which put them up 3-2 after one.

Christian Evers would knot the game up for Team USA for the third time at 7:43 of the second period. The goal swapping streak finally ended as Roslovic scored for the first U.S. lead of the game at 15:28, with Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk on the helpers. Tkachuk’s second assist on the go-ahead goal was good enough to earn him third star of the game.

The U.S. would extend its lead early in the third period when Bracco dropped the puck for White, who snapped it home. Sweden wouldn’t sit idly by, however, as Grundstrom scored again in the next 24 seconds. Matthews got his second goal of the game to give Team USA a 6-4 lead at 9:44 in the final frame. Leading by a respectable two goals, but still the smallest of margins they had seen all tournament, the U.S. would have to defend their lead from an extended 5-on-3 power play for Sweden as penalties were called on Caleb Jones and Nicholas Boka at 10:38 and 10:51. The U.S. maintained their lead, though, even in the dying seconds of the game when Sweden pulled Werner in favor of an extra attacker.

 

Team USA Recap – 2014 Under-18 Four Nations Tournament
Nov. 5-9 | Sundsvall, Sweden

Date Opponent Location Time / Result
Fri., Nov. 7 Finland Energi Arena W, 8-1
Sat., Nov. 8 Switzerland Energi Arena W, 7-1
Sun., Nov. 9 Sweden Energi Arena W, 6-4

For more information, contact Jake Wesolek (JakeW@usahockey.org)

Through the Four Nations Tournament, Team USA outscored their competition by 21-6, with Sweden putting up the biggest fight with 4 goals. Auston Matthews led all skaters with 3 goals and 6 assists for a total of 9 points. Jack Roslovic and Jeremy Bracco tied for third with 7 points each, with Roslovic earning a tournament best 4 goals. Grant Gabriele led all defensemen with 2 goals and an assist for a total of 3 points. Matthews, Roslovic, and Gabriele were highest in their plus-minus rating, with each of them earning a +6 through 3 games.

Born in the “non-traditional” hockey market of South Florida, Elizabeth (Beth) quickly grew to love the sport at a very young age after her Buffalo-bred family introduced her to the Sabres. High school friends who didn’t care about hockey couldn't understand her withdrawals during the 2004-05 lockout, but college would bring a hockey loving boyfriend (and best friend) to whom she could finally relate. A South Florida native himself, and an avid Florida Panthers fan, he got her into the home team. Together they work for their college hockey club (the FAU Owls), broadcasting games. Beth is a huge USA Hockey fan and hopes to see them win Olympic gold in her lifetime. Between her 2 favorite NHL teams, her college squad, and USA Hockey, it's hard to tell which team she loves most, but she is passionate about them all.

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