BASEL, Switzerland - The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team rounds out preliminary-round play this afternoon against host Switzerland at the 2023 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship. Puck drop is slated for 4:00 p.m. (10:00 a.m. ET) at St. Jakob Arena and the game will broadcast live on NHL Network.
The U.S., after a day off yesterday, last played Sunday night, an 8-4 win over Finland. Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) collected a goal and four assists while Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) pitched in four points to help the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team prevail in the back-and-forth battle. The win was Team USA's third straight preliminary-round victory at the 2023 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship.
"We loved the way the guys played, seeing the consistent responses that we had," said Dan Muse (Canton, Mass.), head coach of the 2023 U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team after Sunday's win. "Finland is a great team, it’s not supposed to be easy. But our staff believes in our group and their response tonight was great to see."
A day after Perreault set the USA Hockey National Team Development Program single-season scoring mark by passing Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews, linemate Smith's five-point night pushed him ahead of Matthews on the all-time list as well. The duo now ranks 1-2 in a season all-time at the NTDP. Both skaters own identical stat lines, with their 11 points (4g-7a) tied with each other for most in this year's championship.
With his tournament-leading sixth goal, and fourth on the power play, underager Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) joined the dynamic duo in the 100-point club. Eiserman notched his 66th goal overall this season, second-most in an NTDP season, to pair with 34 assists.
U.S. goaltender Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) made 27 saves in Sunday's win to collect his second win in as many appearances and his ninth career IIHF victory.
The Swiss remain a contender for the top spot in Group B, coming into today's game tied with Finland at six points, three points behind Team USA. With any point earned today, the U.S. will clinch first place in the Group. Goaltender Ewan Huet, son of former NHLer Cristobal, has been the best player for the host country. His 1.33 goals-against average and .946 save percentage both rank third among all qualified netminders in the tournament.
The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team is 9-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) all-time against Switzerland in the tournament, with only one game coming outside the group stage. The all-time preliminary-round history between the two teams is below:
April 16, 2001 -- USA 3, Switzerland 1
April 15, 2002 -- USA 5, Switzerland 1
April 17, 2005 -- USA 7, Switzerland 1
April 13, 2008 -- USA 7, Switzerland 2
April 14, 2010 -- USA 5, Switzerland 1
April 14, 2011 -- USA 2, Switzerland 1
April 17, 2014 -- Switzerland 4, USA 2
April 19, 2016 -- USA 4, Switzerland 0
April 20, 2018 -- USA 8, Switzerland 5