SOLIGORSK, Belarus – Austin Czarnik (Washington, Mich.) and Brandon Saad (Gibsonia, Pa.) each netted three goals as the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team downed Belarus, 13-2, here tonight in its first of two pre-tournament games leading up to the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Men's Under-18 Championship, to be held in Minsk and Bobruisk, Belarus, April 13-23.
Czarnik got the U.S. on the board 8:44 into the game when he tipped Adam Clendening's (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) right-point shot inside the right post. The U.S. doubled its advantage when Luke Moffatt (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) slipped the puck through netminder Jan Sherepnev's legs at 17:27. Jason Zucker (Las Vegas, Nev.) added a power-play goal with just 53 seconds remaining in the first frame after snapping home a feed from Saad.
The U.S. exploded for six goals in the middle period, five of which came after the 10-minute mark. Matthew Nieto (Long Beach, Calif.) started the scoring with a power-play marker just 1:46 into the stanza. Frankie Simonelli (Bensenville, Ill.) made it 5-1 at 10:44 after converting on a long pass from Czarnik. Just 16 seconds later, Czarnik buried a feed from Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, Calif.) for his second marker of the game. Belarus got itself on the board with a goal off the stick of Yevgeny Leonov at 14:08. Czarnik netted his third of the game just 24 seconds later after wristing the puck into the upper-right corner. Team USA made it 8-1 when Zucker sprung Saad, who slipped the puck between Sherepnev's legs on a breakaway at 16:35. With just eight seconds remaining in the period, Austin Watson (Ann Arbor, Mich.) converted on Clendening's rebound from the left side.
Team USA added four more goals in the final frame. Bill Arnold (Needham, Mass.) tapped a rebound past new netminder Anton Agres at 1:05. Belarus added its second goal when Vlad Lemachko's center-point blast found the back of the net at 4:30. The U.S. responded with Saad's second goal of the game 25 seconds later. The Gibsonia, Pa., native potted his third goal at 9:37 with a center-point slap shot. Justin Faulk (South St. Paul, Minn.) tallied at 16:04 after converting on a feed from Grimaldi to account for the 13-2 final.
U.S. goaltender Jack Campbell (Port Huron, Mich.) made 10 saves in the win.
The U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team will meet Slovakia in Bobruisk Saturday at 5 p.m. (10 a.m. EDT) in its final tune-up for the 2010 IIHF World Men's Under-18 Championship.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)