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U.S. men’s hockey team eliminated in Olympics quarterfinals, falling to Slovakia in dramatic shootout



The U.S. men’s hockey team was eliminated Wednesday after falling to Slovakia in a shootout in the quarterfinals at the Beijing Olympics.

With a final score of 3-2, Slovakia moves on to the semifinals, where they will face the winner of the Canada vs. Sweden match.

The U.S. got off to a solid start against the Slovaks, outshooting them 5-0 in the early portion of the opening stanza. But not long after the period’s midway point, Slovakian sensation Juraj Slafkovsky netted his tournament-leading fifth goal to break the ice.

The 17-year-old was left completely unguarded in the slot and fired a laser past U.S. goalkeeper Strauss Mann to give his squad the early advantage. Slafkovsky may be the youngest player of the tournament, but he’s already looking like a budding star.

The Americans eventually responded with a goal of their own with just 45 seconds remaining in the first period. Nick Abruzzese potted his first marker of the tournament with help from Kenny AgostinoSteven Kampfer and Beniers on the rush.

Despite the clear momentum shift at the end of the game’s first 20 minutes, the middle period was far from ideal for the Americans. Slovakia outshot them 13-6 in the second frame and generated several quality scoring chances. Mann, however, was able to keep all of their opportunities out of the net. The Greenwich, Connecticut, native stopped 24 of the 36 shots fired in his direction.

While the Slovaks had the clear advantage in the shots department during the middle stanza, Sam Hentges managed to score his first goal of the tournament just before the game’s midway, and it gave the U.S. the 2-1 lead. It wound up being the last goal the Americans would score at the 2022 Games.

The U.S. headed into the quarterfinals with a perfect 3-0 record in group play and got off to a solid start against the Slovaks, outshooting them 5-0 in the early portion of the opening stanza. But not long after the period’s midway point, Slovakian sensation Juraj Slafkovsky netted his tournament-leading fifth goal to break the ice.

The 17-year-old was left completely unguarded in the slot and fired a laser past U.S. goalkeeper Strauss Mann to give his squad the early advantage.

The Americans eventually responded with a goal of their own with just 45 seconds remaining in the first period. Nick Abruzzese potted his first marker of the tournament with help from Kenny AgostinoSteven Kampfer and Matty Beniers on the rush.

Despite the clear momentum shift at the end of the game’s first 20 minutes, the middle period was far from ideal for the Americans.

Slovakia outshot them 13-6 in the second frame and generated several quality scoring chances. Mann, however, was able to keep all of their opportunities out of the net. The Greenwich, Connecticut, native stopped 24 of the 36 shots fired in his direction.

While the Slovaks had the clear advantage in the shots department during the middle stanza, Sam Hentges managed to score his first goal of the tournament just before the game’s midway, and it gave the U.S. the 2-1 lead. It wound up being the last goal the Americans would score at the 2022 Games.

With just 43.7 seconds remaining in regulation, Slovak forward Marek Hrivik scored with his team’s net empty to tie the game and ultimately force.

Despite both the U.S. and Slovakia managing to generate numerous quality scoring chances, neither team was able to score in the highly-eventful 10-minute, 3-on-3 OT period.

Goals were just as hard to come by in the shootout, but when a puck finally did hit the back of the net, it came off the stick of Slovakia’s Peter Cehlarik.

Slovakia goaltender Patrik Rybar didn’t allow a single goal in the shootout, stopping the Americans on all five of their attempts. Rybar finished the tilt with 33 saves on 35 U.S. shots.

The U.S. has not made it to the semifinals since 2014 at the Sochi Games. It was there they dropped a 1-0 game to Canada, who would go on to win the gold medal.

Team USA had previously reached the semifinal round in 2010 and 2002, with both ending in defeats to Canada in the gold medal game.

Slovakia was not considered a favorite to advance to the semifinals in the men’s tournament by any means, but with NHL players not taking part in the Olympics, the playing field was evened out significantly due to the high presence of amateur players.

Slovakia will play their semifinal game Thursday night at 11:10 p.m. ET.

Claire Cardona contributed.



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