RED DEER, Alberta — Will Whitelaw (Rosemount, Minn.) scored two goals and added an assist to lead the U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team to an 8-0 victory over Slovakia in a pre-tournament matchup Friday afternoon at Peavy Mart Centrium ahead of the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
“Our guys were totally engaged and that was the biggest key for us,” said Anthony Noreen (Chicago, Ill.), head coach of the U.S. Under-18 Men's Select Team. “Our depth is our strength. We have two goalies that both went in and got shutouts, we rolled eight D, rolled 13 forwards and I thought every guy answered the bell. That's our strength and that was exciting to see in the first game here together.”
Whitelaw opened scoring for the U.S. 1:47 into the game on a breakaway. He picked off the puck at his own blue line and skated it up the ice past two Slovakian defenders, sending the puck past Slovak goaltender Samuel Urban from the top of the right circle.
Connor Brown (Estero, Fla.) found the back of the net next on a short-handed goal, giving the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Brown blocked a pass to clear the puck from the U.S. zone and Griffin Erdman (Wilmington, Del.) gained control along the boards and sent it to back to Brown, who fired a one-timer into the net.
The U.S. extended its lead to 3-0 just 1:31 into the second period. U.S. netminder Calvin Vachon (Hamilton, Mont.) intercepted a pass and Whitelaw picked up the puck net front. He sent it to A.J. Lacroix (Livingston, N.J.), who tipped it to Zack Sharp (Naperville, Ill.) at the top of the blue line, sneaking the puck past Urban from the center of the right circle.
Tanner Adams (Northport, N.Y.) tallied another point for the U.S. with just over five minutes remaining. Quentin Musty (Hamburg, N.Y.) connected with Lucas St. Louis (Old Greenwich, Conn.), who fired off a one-timer. Urban was equal to the task, but Adams picked up the rebound and slipped it into the back of the net for a 4-0 U.S. lead.
Brown recorded his second of the game at the 3:01 mark at the top of the third. Joe Connor (Amherst, N.H.) sent the puck to Gavin McCarthy (Clarence Center, N.Y.) and McCarthy got a shot off. Brown snagged the puck off the rebound and into the net.
Carey Terrance (Akwesasne, N.Y.) increased the U.S. lead to 6-0 minutes later on a two-on-one. Musty sent the puck to Terrance at the left face-off dot and Terrance tipped it past Slovakian goalie Damian Slavik, who was in net to start the third.
Whitelaw scored his second of the game just over a minute later. St. Louis picked up the puck off the face off and passed it to Andrew Strathmann (Beach Park, Ill.) behind the net. Strathmann chipped the puck out of the U.S. zone and Whitelaw picked it up at the point and scored off another breakaway.
Slovakia was awarded a penalty shot with 6:17 remaining in the game, but Hampton Slukynsky (Warroad, Minn.), who appeared in net for the U.S. midway through the second, kept Slovakia off the scoreboard.
Sharp also then scored his second of the game to put the U.S. up 8-0. He chipped the puck up to center ice and picked it back up to send it stick side past Slavik.
Vachon and Slukynsky split time in goal for Team USA and finished with 10 saves apiece.
The U.S. opens play in the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup against Germany Sunday (July 31) at Peavy Mart Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta. Puck drop is set for 3 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET). All games can be streamed on NHL Network.
NOTES: Griffin Erdman was named the U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA was 0-4 on the power play, while Slovakia was 0-8 … The U.S. outshot Slovakia 41-20.