PRIEVIDZA, Slovakia - Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) scored twice and added an assist and four skaters registered multiple points as the U.S. National Under-17 Team defeated Russia, 5-3, here tonight at Prievidza Arena. The win clinched the fifth consecutive Four Nations Tournament title for Team USA, dating back to 2009.
“We played together as a team throughout the tournament and we’re happy to come away with the title,” said Don Granato, head coach of the U.S. National Under-17 Team. “Our players got invaluable experience that we will utilize moving forward.”
Kunin staked an early lead for Team USA just 58 seconds into the game with an unassisted goal. Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) sent the U.S. up two markers at 12:58, converting with a two-man advantage. Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass.) and Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) chipped in to earn assists on the play. Russia cut the U.S. lead in half before the period expired, also capitalizing during five-on-three play.
Both teams traded goals in the second stanza. Russia knotted the game at two goals apiece with a power-play tally at 16:41, but Grant Gabriele (Brighton, Mich.) reclaimed the U.S. lead just 18 seconds later. White and Bracco recorded assists.
Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill.) scored the eventual game-winning goal for the U.S. at 8:51 of the third period, teaming up with Kunin and Hanifin to push Team USA’s lead to 4-2. Russia inched closer at 14:59, but was unable to find the equalizer. Kunin secured the victory at 16:39 with his second goal of the contest, and Hanifin added his third assist on the play.
Michael Lackey (Washington, D.C.) stopped 20 shots for the U.S. in the win, while Ilya Samsonov made 44 saves for Russia.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team returns to action Saturday, November 23 when they host the Tri-City Storm at the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Ice Cube. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The NTDP will also be hosting Super Hero Night that evening, with special appearances by Captain America and Spiderman, and giveaways from the Vault of Midnight throughout the game.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)