Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Sport | By Floyd Cook

United States of America men's hockey team loses to Slovenia in Olympics debut

United States of America men's hockey team loses to Slovenia in Olympics debut

As Team USA sat back in the hockey-equivalent of a prevent defense, Slovenia began peppering US goalie Ryan Zapolski with shots throughout the third period.

Blaz Gregorc scored early in the third period for Slovenia to cut the America's lead in half.

Team USA led 2-0 in the third period when Slovenia rallied to create a tense finish. A part of Yugoslavia until 1991, Slovenia did not qualify for an Olympic ice hockey tournament until 2014 but finished a respectable seventh in Sochi.

After pulling their goalie with under two minutes to play, Slovenia equalized with the extra man, with Jan Mursak finding the back of the net to force overtime. Since the 1998 Nagano Games, the world's best hockey players meet every four years in the ultimate display of national pride and for worldwide bragging rights.

Former 15-year National Hockey League veteran and team captain Brian Gionta leads the American roster for the tournament, which runs from Wednesday through February 24.

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Team USA still gains a point in the standings by making it to overtime.

It is the first Winter Olympic men's hockey tournament in 24 years without NHL players.

The back-to-back upsets in the Olympic hockey hub of Gangneung, a city located about 60 kilometres northeast of Pyeongchang, underlines the unpredictability of this throwback tournament, the first without NHLers since 1994. During the 2017 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, Terry scored three consecutive shootout goals to beat Russian Federation in semifinals and scored the single shootout shot against Canada for the gold medal.

Only once has a team other than the US or Canada made the Olympic or Worlds title games. Team Canada has taken the last four Olympic gold medals, with the USA winning the 1998 Games. Americans have four shots compared to Slovenia's one so far. Both sides exchange penalties towards the end of the period but nothing came and both sides were still tied after 40 minutes of hockey.

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