BASEL, Switzerland - Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) recorded three goals and two assists while Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) added a four-goal game as the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team downed Norway by a 12-1 final Saturday evening at St. Jakob Arena.
"We keep saying to the players we've got to keep building, every game is going to be different," said Dan Muse (Canton, Mass.), head coach of the 2023 Under-18 Men's National Team. "It was a good game and now we turn the page to get ready for tomorrow."
For the second consecutive game, Eiserman put Team USA on the board first with a power-play goal. Directly off an offensive-zone draw, James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) worked in down below the goal line to Will Vote (Arlington, Mass.). He one-touched it over to Eiserman who buried a one-timer from a sharp angle for a 1-0 lead at 1:45.
The U.S. doubled the lead just over two minutes later as Perreault converted on a breakaway. Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) poked the puck free and Perreault got in behind the defense. His first shot was stopped, but the puck popped up and he batted the rebound out of mid-air for a 2-0 advantage.
Eiserman connected again just past the midway mark of the period for his third score in two games. Ryan Fine (Center Moriches, N.Y.) knocked the puck off a Norwegian player’s blade and right to Eiserman between the hashes. He snapped a wrister over the blocker of Martin Lundberg to extend the lead to three.
Team USA added another at 13:04 off a pretty passing display from Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) and Perreault. Cole Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) made a great stretch pass to lead Leonard down the right wing. He found a trailing Perreault, who gave it right back to Leonard on the doorstep for a 4-0 lead. With the assist, Perreault took sole possession of the National Team Development Program’s all-time single season points record with 118, surpassing Auston Matthews’ 117 in 2014-15.
After Norway got on the board to make it 4-1, the U.S. responded right away to regain the four-goal lead after Smith flipped a shot in the top corner from in close. Perreault worked the puck into the zone and Leonard made a nice hustle play to center the puck as all three members of the top line picked up a point on the 5-1 score.
The trio used an aggressive forecheck to cause a Norway turnover and convert once more before the midway mark of the game. Smith trapped the puck along the boards, fed Leonard for the first shot and Perreault got the second chance as he banged home the rebound.
Eiserman finished the hat trick and made no mistake with his one-timer off a pretty set-up from Hagens off a 2-on-1 rush. Carter Slaggert (South Bend, Ind.) chipped the puck up to earn his first point of the tournament.
Danny Nelson (Maple Grove, Minn.) picked the short-side top corner while charging the left wing to increase Team USA’s lead to 8-1. Beckett Hendrickson (Minnetonka, Minn.) and Paul Fischer (River Forest, Ill.) earned assists for their first IIHF points.
Perreault completed his hat trick before the close of the middle period with a slick drag move and forehand finish in front of the net. Vote and Smith helped out to make it 9-1 after 40 minutes.
Team USA added three goals in the third period – a Slaggert shorthanded score, Eiserman’s fourth on the power play and Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn.) to cap the scoring for the 12-1 final.
U.S. netminder Carsen Musser (Sherburn, Minn.), making his IIHF debut in net, made 14 saves to pick up the win for Team USA.
The U.S. continues preliminary-round play tomorrow night as they take on Finland. Puck drop is set for 7:00 pm local (1:00 pm ET) and the game will broadcast live on NHL Network.
Notes: Gabe Perreault was Team USA’s Player of the Game with three goals and two assists … The U.S. went 2-for-3 on the power play and was 4-for-4 on the penalty kill … Team USA outshot Norway 61-15 ... Team USA is back in action tomorrow, Sunday, April 23 against Finland at 1 p.m. ET on NHL Network.