BASEL, Switzerland – Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) collected three goals and two assists and Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) added a pair of scores as the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team defeated Switzerland, 10-0, Tuesday afternoon to sweep preliminary-round play.
"We got that huge goal early and that helped set the stage for the game," said Dan Muse (Canton, Mass.), head coach of the 2023 U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team. "We’ll take advantage of the day tomorrow and we’re excited for the quarterfinals on Thursday."
The U.S. got on the board just 15 seconds into the contest after Drew Fortescue (Pearl River, N.Y.) collected a rebound and put the second chance over the shoulder of Swiss netminder Christian Kirsch. Leonard took the initial shot off a pass from Cole Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) as both skaters picked up helpers on the opening goal.
With 3:49 left in the opening frame, Eiserman buried the puck five-hole off a 2-on-1 rush with James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) to double the U.S. lead. Will Vote (Arlington, Mass.) pushed the puck into the zone for the secondary helper on Eiserman’s seventh score of the event.
Sixteen seconds after, Leonard put his name in the goal column with a slick redirection in the crease off an original point shot from Zeev Buium (San Diego, Calif.). Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) grabbed his first point of the game with an assist on the 3-0 goal.
Before the buzzer, Eiserman collected his second of the period, jamming home a loose puck along the blue paint in the crease. Vote knocked the puck from a Swiss stick in the defensive zone and Eiserman found it to extend his tournament lead to eight goals, the most ever by an underager for Team USA at the U18 World Championship.
Less than a minute into the middle period, Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) finished a tic-tac-toe sequence with Smith and Leonard to make it five in a row for Team USA.
The U.S. converted on its first man advantage of the game with 8:03 to play in the second to make it a 6-0 game. Carey Terrance (Akwesasne, N.Y.) found Perreault below the goal line, who moved it to Leonard stationed in front for a chip shot and his second goal of the afternoon.
Smith found the back of the net 60 seconds into the third to give the U.S. a goal in the opening minute of all three periods. Hutson sent a deep outlet to Perreault along the left wing. He dropped it for Smith who gathered and fired in from the left hashes.
Leonard completed the hat trick at 6:37 of the third to make it 8-0 in favor of Team USA with yet another full top-line effort. Off of help from Perreault and Smith, Leonard dragged the puck through the crease and finished with a backhand flip.
Buium was awarded, and converted on, a penalty shot with 12:08 to play in regulation. He grabbed his first goal of the tournament with a five-hole finish.
Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn.) capped the scoring on a firm wrister from the left wing with 4:28 to play, for the 10-0 final.
Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) started in net for the U.S. and made stops on all 13 shots he saw through 40 minutes to earn his third win of the tournament. Carsen Musser (Sherburn, Minn.) then made four saves in the final period for Team USA’s first shutout of the tournament.
With the win, Team USA finishes on top of Group B and will face Czechia in the quarterfinals on Thursday at St. Jakob Arena. Puck drop is set for 12:30 pm local (6:30 am ET), and the game will be broadcast live on NHL Network.
Notes: Ryan Leonard was named Player of the Game (3G, 2A) … Team USA outshot Switzerland 34-17… Team USA was 1-for-2 on the power play, and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill ... The U.S. finishes preliminary play ranked first in scoring efficiency, first on the power play, first on the penalty kill, and third in save percentage in the tournament.