ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Playing its first game in 19 days, top-ranked St. Cloud State shook off some rust from the holiday break, but came up just short against the U.S. U-18 National Team, falling 6-4 in an exhibition game Thursday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, as the U-18s broke a 4-4 tie in the final minute.
The game entered the third period even at 3-3, while Sean Farrell put the NTDP ahead 6:38 into the final frame when he cleaned up a rebound on the doorstep. SCSU (13-1-2) answered to tie the game with 3:12 left in regulation as senior forward Patrick Newell deflected home a pass from sophomore Easton Brodzinski in front of the net. The U-18 Team was not fazed, however, as Alex Turcotte tallied the game-winner with only 45 ticks remaining, finishing a 2-on-1 rush at the back post. Cole Caufield, who had a three-point night, then sealed the win for the U.S. squad with an empty-netter for his second goal of the game.
Newell and sophomore forward Kevin Fitzgerald each notched a goal and an assist in the loss for the Huskies, with their other three points coming in the first period. The U.S. U-18 squad jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first frame, striking only 3:06 into the contest and then again with 1:27 left as Caufield potted his first goal of the night on a one-timer from the left circle. SCSU rallied with two goals in a span of 49 seconds to close the opening period and tie the game. Junior defenseman Jack Ahcan, set up by Fitzgerald and Newell, and Fitzgerald with a one-timer on the power play provided the offense.
The teams then traded goals in the second stanza, with SCSU grabbing its only lead of the game off the stick of freshman Brendan Bushy early in the middle period. The NTDP tied things up with 4:51 left in the second period, leading to the decisive final frame. John Beecher dished out three assists in the win for the U.S. U-18 Team, while the two sides were even on shots on goal at 29 apiece.
St. Cloud State resumes regular-season play next weekend at the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh. On Friday, Jan. 4, the Huskies open against No. 14/14 Union, and will then face either tournament-host Robert Morris or Brown on Saturday, Jan. 5.
Two other NCHC teams resume regular-season play this Friday, as No. 4/3 Minnesota Duluth returns from break at the Desert Hockey Classic, while No. 8/7 Denver is out east for a game at Merrimack. UMD opens the tournament in Glendale, Ariz. against in-state rival No. 3/8 Minnesota State, before battling either host No. 15/13 Arizona State or No. 19 Clarkson on Saturday. UMD's game will be streamed for free here, while Denver's game is on TV regionally on NESN. For a full weekend preview, click here.