Buoyed by two pivotal goals from Philippe Lapointe (Burr Ridge, Ill.), the United States Under-18 Men’s Select Team skated past Hungary’s Under-20 National Team 4-2 today in its first pre-Hlinka Cup exhibition game.
Lapointe, who played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep in Minnesota last season, scored the eventual game-winning goal with one minute remaining in the second period, then added a short-handed goal early in the third period to put the game out of reach. His tour de force capped an impressive American rally that erased a 2-1 deficit late in the second period and boosted the U.S. to victory in Budapest.
“This was a great game against a really good Hungarian team,” said U.S. head coach Clark Donatelli (Providence, R.I.) "It was a really good test for our guys to overcome some adversity and rise to the challenge in a very physical game. I liked the way our team stuck together and came back.”
Lapointe’s first goal will stand among the prettiest of any that the U.S. will score during its quest for the 2017 Hlinka Cup championship. The former Chicago Mission forward collected a long pass from Ryder Donovan (Duluth, Minn.), danced through a lone Hungarian defender, then slipped a quick wrist shot past the goaltender to give the U.S. a 3-2 lead.
His second goal snuffed the home team’s best chance for a third-period comeback, short-circuiting a Hungarian power play after a misplay by goaltender Balazs Karoly Toth. Lapointe collected the loose puck at the extended goal line and passed it to Curtis Hall (Chagrin Falls, Ohio), whose shot from the blue line ended up back on Lapointe’s stick. After a quick pull to the backhand, Lapointe tucked the puck past Toth to provide Team USA with its final margin of victory.
In all, the U.S. peppered Hungary with 44 shots on goal while limiting the Hungarians to only 21 in this initial exhibition tune-up. Still, the outcome looked anything but assured with 4:24 remaining in the second period, when Donat Szita corralled a deflection off the crossbar and stuffed it past U.S. goaltender Ben Kraws (Cranbury, N.J.) to give Hungary its first lead of the game.
But the U.S. answered slightly more than a minute later on a surge from its Two-Jacks-and-a-Hall line. The Hall in that trio – Curtis Hall (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) – was the beneficiary, shoveling a backhander past the Hungarian netminder to tie the game at 2-2. That same U.S. line scored a mere 26 seconds into the first period to set the tempo for Team USA, with a Jack Randl (Carpentersville, Ill.) one-timer from the slot finishing a nifty three-way connection that began with Hall winning a puck battle in the corner, then sliding a pass to Jack Drury (Winnetka, Ill.), who one-touched a feed to his former Chicago Mission teammate for the goal.
The U.S. will now shift its camp from Hungary to Slovakia, where an exhibition game with Slovakia’s Under-18 National Team is scheduled for Saturday at 5:30 p.m. local time / 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time. From there, the U.S. will travel to Breclav, Czech Republic, where it’ll begin play Monday at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup against Sweden at 3:30 p.m. local time / 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. That game, and all U.S. games during the Hlinka Cup, will be live streamed at hokejkatv.cz.
Follow the U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team every step of the way at TeamUSA.USAHockey.com.
Notes: Hall (1G, 2A) was named Player of the Game for Team USA … Kraws and Isaiah Saville (Anchorage, Alaska) split U.S. goaltending duties against Hungary. Saville started and stopped 9 of 10 shots. Kraws played the final 28:36 and stopped 10 of 11 … The Hungarian Under-20 National Team is comprised of 10 19-year-olds, eight 18-year-olds, two 17-year-olds and two 16-year-olds, one of which – Kristof Papp – played in the 2017 USA Hockey Youth Tier I 16U Nationals for Michigan’s HoneyBaked program … The Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation is in the midst of a yearlong celebration of its 90th anniversary in ice hockey.
Head coach Clark Donatelli provides an update on the U.S. Under-18 Men's Select Team, looking back at Thursday's exhibition victory over Hungary and looking ahead to Saturday's exhibition finale in Slovakia.