BOBRUISK, Belarus – Luke Moffatt (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) and Bryan Rust (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) each tallied twice for the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team as it earned a 7-3 decision over Slovakia here tonight in its last tune-up prior to the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Men's Under-18 Championship, to be held in Minsk and Bobruisk, Belarus, April 13-23.
Team USA jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Nick Shore (Denver, Colo.) feathered a pass to Austin Watson (Ann Arbor, Mich.), who tapped it into the wide-open goal 6:20 into the game. Luke Moffatt (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) doubled the U.S. advantage when he tipped Justin Faulk's (South St. Paul, Minn.) slap shot through netminder Dominik Reicicky for a power-play tally at 11:29. Bill Arnold (Needham, Mass.) added to the total after he took a feed from Watson, sped around a defender, deked to his backhand and roofed the puck into the net at 15:50.
Slovakia bounced back in the second frame when Bruno Mraz wristed home a shot from the right side at 10:56. Team USA answered, however, just 29 seconds later when Arnold dropped the puck to Bryan Rust (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) who snapped it over the outstretched glove of Reicicky. With 2:38 remaining in the stanza, Mraz broke down the right wing and put the puck under netminder Andy Iles (Ithaca, N.Y.) to make it 4-2.
The U.S. took back control of the game 1:08 into the final period after Adam Clendening (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) one-timed a feed from Brandon Saad (Gibsonia, Pa.) for a 5-on-3 power-play goal. Just 1:16 later, Moffatt deflected a cross-crease pass from Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, Calif.) into the open net for another power-play marker to make it 6-2. Rust added his second goal at 10:22 after he batted a mid-air feed from Arnold into the net from the right side. Marek Tvrdon scored for Slovakia at 13:30 to account for the 7-3 final.
Iles made 16 saves to earn the victory.
The U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team opens tournament play Tuesday (April 13) against Sweden at 7 p.m. (noon EDT) at Bobruisk Arena.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)