Elite Red fights past Team USA

by Tim Droogsma

NEW HOPE - For the second time this weekend, an Elite League team has defeated the U-17 team from the National Team Development Program (NTDP) in Plymouth, Michigan.

Tyler Watkins (Hermantown) scored a pair of goal to lead Elite Red - a team made up of players from five different Elite League squads - to a 4-3 win over Team USA Sunday at New Hope Arena. On Saturday, Team Northwest from the Elite League beat team USA 4-0.

Watkins set off a frenetic end to the first period when he scored his first goal of the game at 17:13, assisted by Jack Jensen (Eden Prairie.) Team USA answered just 17 seconds later with a goal by Patrick Giles, but with 40 seconds left in the period, Luke Manning (Stillwater) scored off an assist from Brady Tatro (Bemidji) to put Elite Red back on top.

Luke Manning of Elite Red crashes the net to score against Team USA - Elite League photo by Nick Wosika

Blade Jenkins of Team USA scored early in the second period to knot the game at 2-2, but just 16 seconds later, Blake McLaughlin (Grand Rapids) scored an unassisted goal to put Elite Red back on top. Watkins scored late in the period to put Elite Red up 4-2, assisted by Jensen (his second helper of the game) and Jesse Jacques.

Team USA scored in the third to cut the lead to 4-3, but was unable to get the equalizer. Elite Red goalies Zach Stejskal (Grand Rapids) and Jaren Moe (Holy Family) stopped 26 of 29 shots in the game.

The Elite League now moves on to its final regular-season week with games Tuesday (Northeast vs. Southeast, 7:00 p.m. at New Hope), Wednesday (Southwest vs. Shattuck, 7:00 p.m. at Shattuck) and weekend games in Eau Claire, Duluth and Cloquet.