Beijing: The United States suffered a shock 3-1 quarter-final shootout loss to Slovakia with a thrilling match at Beijing’s men’s hockey event at the Beijing Games this Wednesday.
Danmark’s hopes ended when the first-time athletes lost 3-1 against their opponents, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), the reigning champions. Then, Finland beat Switzerland 5-1.
Slovakia secured a spot in the final four when Peter Cehlarik was the only skater to score in a thrilling shootout, defeating the U.S.
Netminder Strauss Mann after overtime, leaving the score tied at 2-2.
“It’s difficult, but I felt pretty good during the shootout, and I felt great with that shot as well. I think I read the shot pretty well, and it just fell through my blocker,” Mann said.
“It’s an exercise in inches. I’m sure everyone in our locker rooms did their best, and kudos to them for having persevered and fought hard for the challenge,” he added.
After Cehlarik’s goal, the United States had one last opportunity to prolong the shootout. Still, Captain Andy Miele could not beat netminder Patrik Rybar. The Slovakia bench burst into an exuberant celebration.
Unbeaten in the group phase, The U.S. looked headed for the semi-finals with the regulation in place and led 2-1 when Slovakia took out Rybar to make room for an additional attack.
However, they were given a chance to equalize by Marek Hrivik in the 44th minute remaining to force overtime.
The Americans put together an Olympic team of college players and minor leagues and European leagues after they decided not to participate.
National Hockey League opted not to join after a spike in COVID-19-related cases.
In locker rooms prompted the postponement or cancellation of more than 100 games.
Most of the U.S. team is still playing college hockey; they were a minor roster.
However, Slovakia had the youngest player at 17 years old, Juraj Slafkovsky.
The teenager has emphasized his place as the top choice in the next NHL draft and leads the Olympics scoring charts by five.
If there were NHL scouts that Slafkovsky didn’t already enthrall, the player gave them a reason to be excited after releasing a rocket from the slot.
But, unfortunately, Mann would only wave to when it hit an area behind his net.
The U.S. answered with 46 seconds remaining in the opening period, scoring a clever backhand from NickAbruzzese. Then, Sam Hentges put them ahead in the second half 2-1. sole goal.
As a part of Former Czechoslovakia, Slovakia made several appearances on the Olympic podium. It made it to the semi-finals in Vancouver’s 2010 Vancouver Games as an independent country.
Still, it failed to make it to the medals, losing to Finland in the bronze game.
“It was 12 years ago, and this time I can look forward to playing in the semi-finals of the tournament,” stated Slafkovsky. “I was watching this, but I was only six years old and needed to go to the school and go to kindergarten.
“It is incredible that this can be happening.”
The ROC hasn’t yet gotten their offense going. However, they could knock off a ferocious Denmark by scoring a goal in each of the periods.
Nikita Nesterov, Vadim Shipachyov, and Vyacheslav Voinov have scored goals for ROC as Frans Nielsen scored Denmark’s only goal.
“We are beginning to score more offensively,” said ROC head coach Alexei Zhamnov. “We were able to create many scoring opportunities, but we aren’t at the point of scoring. We must get many more times.”
Finland scored an early lead by scoring goals from forwarding Miro Aaltonen, defenceman Mikko Lehtonen scoring early in the opening period.
And Marko Anttila is netting the third goal in the second period.
The five-time Olympian Andres Ambuhl converted on the power play opportunity to score the Swiss in the lead.
However, Finland responded in the third quarter by scoring two goals in less than five minutes remaining.
The victory offers Finland the chance to return to the podium after their bronze medal win in Sochi.
Qualifying continues on Wednesday, with Canada taking on Sweden in the final game.