PIESTANY, Slovakia – The U.S. National Under-17 Team overcame a 4-1 deficit in the second period, but fell to Germany, 6-5, in a shootout here today at the 2010 Vlad Dzurilla Under-18 Tournament.
Germany jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after Stephan Kronthaler and Dominik Bittner tallied goals just 40 seconds apart, with Kronthaler's marker coming 3:32 into the game. Kronthaler added another goal at the 12:04 mark when his shot got past netminder John Gibson (Pittsburgh, Pa.). Team USA answered back when Michael Vilardo (Geneva, Ill.) put the puck behind goaltender Sebastian Kinader at 15:27 to make it 3-1.
Tobias Rieder regained the three-goal lead for Germany just 56 seconds into the middle frame, but 2:09 later Vilardo bested Kinader again to pull the U.S. within two. Team USA cut the deficit to one goal when J.T. Miller (East Palestine, Ohio) converted on a pass from Adam Reid (Chino Hills, Calif.) for a power-play tally at 6:42. Alex Gacek (Dracut, Mass.) knotted the score for the U.S. after he took a feed from Andy Ryan (Brighton, Mich.) and beat Kinader at 10:28. Gibson made nine saves in the period to keep the score tied after 40 minutes.
With both teams trading shots in the third stanza, Germany broke through at 11:20 when Marvin Miethke slipped a shot past Gibson to make it 5-4. Tyler Biggs (Cincinnati, Ohio) tied the score with just 2:58 remaining in regulation for the U.S., with Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill.) assisting on the goal. Neither team found the go-ahead tally at the end of regulation, sending the game to overtime.
In the five-minute overtime period, Gibson turned aside all seven shots he faced, but Team USA could not solve Kinader, forcing the game to a shootout.
After Gibson stopped Tom Kuhnhackl on Germany's first shootout attempt, Russo gave the U.S. the lead after he put the puck past Kinader. Bernhard Keil answered right back for Germany to even the shootout score. After Team USA proved unsuccessful on its next attempt, Mirko Hofflin potted the go-ahead goal, which would stand to be the game-winner for Germany.
Gibson recorded 35 total saves on the afternoon.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team will close out the 2010 Vlad Dzurilla Under-18 Tournament against host Slovakia Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. EST).
NOTES: Michael Vilardo was named Team USA's Player of the Game ... Alex Gacek leads Team USA with three points (1-2) through its first two games in the tournament, with Vilardo pacing the U.S. with two goals ... Team USA earned one point in the standings with the shootout loss.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)