SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Despite a come-back effort in the third period that included a power-play goal by Jon Merrill (Brighton, Mich.), the U.S. National Under-18 Team dropped a 4-2 decision to the Des Moines Buccaneers here today in its final game at the 2009 United States Hockey League Fall Classic at the IBP Ice Center.
Connor Brickley opened the scoring just 1:43 into the game after he broke into the U.S. zone and slipped the puck under netminder Jack Campbell (Port Huron, Mich.) to give Des Moines a 1-0 lead. With just 18 seconds to play in the opening stanza, the Buccaneers doubled their advantage when Mike Fink found D.J. Vandercook who tapped the puck past Campbell from the left side for a power-play goal.
In the second frame, Mitch Cain made it 3-0 after his shot from the right corner caught a deflection and found the back of the net at 11:30. Bryan Rust (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) put Team USA on the board 56 seconds later when he knocked home Chase Balisy's (Fullerton, Calif.) rebound on the left side of the goal crease for a power-play tally.
Just 18 seconds into the final frame and with the U.S. on a power play, Austin Czarnik (Washington, Mich.) fed Merrill who fired a wrist shot over the glove of goaltender Eric Mihalik from the left point to make it 3-2. With 51 seconds remaining in regulation, Ryan Walters potted an empty-net goal on the power play to ice the 4-2 win for the Buccaneers.
Campbell made 28 saves on the afternoon.
The U.S. National Under-18 Team will open its 2009-10 NCAA schedule against Ann Arbor neighbor University of Michigan Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. EDT at Yost Ice Arena
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)