Team USA men’s hockey knocked out of Olympics by Slovakia in penalty shootout : NPR

Team USA reacts after losing to Team Slovakia in a penalty shootout during the men’s ice hockey quarterfinal match against Team Slovakia at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images


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Lintao Zhang/Getty Images


Team USA reacts after losing to Team Slovakia in a penalty shootout during the men’s ice hockey quarterfinal match against Team Slovakia at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The U.S. men’s hockey team lost a crushing loss on Wednesday, falling in a penalty shootout. Team USA was one minute away from qualifying for the Olympic semi-finals, but Slovakia came back to force overtime in the final minute of regulation time.

“It’s pretty hard to describe right now,” USA captain Andy Miele said of the loss, thinking of his young team’s chances of continuing their run at the Beijing Olympics.

Team USA, which like other countries lacks NHL stars, is the youngest team the United States has sent to the Olympics in decades, with an average age of around 25. . All of its members are current or former college players – more than half are now in college.

But USA quickly found a winning streak, going undefeated as a group (including a win over Canada) and entering the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. All thanks to their fluid team play. . Consider this article from the Olympics on their early equalizer in Wednesday’s home-and-away game:

“Nice work from Kenny Agostino on the boards on the right, replays Steven Kampfer. A nice centered pass for Matty Beniers, who directs the puck further on his left.

“He finds Nick Abruzzese applying the finishing touch with a quick slash to get it through the keeper’s five holes. A majestic team goal, great play.”

In the quarterfinals, the US was looking to hold on to victory after taking a second-period lead with a goal from Sam Hentges — a star at St. Cloud State University.

But Slovakia pulled goalkeeper Patrik Rybar out with around 1:30 left in the game – and they capitalized with the equalizer around 45 seconds later, forcing a frantic but scoreless overtime and then the shootout.

USA called on goaltender Strauss Mann to make a variety of saves – and each time he was successful. In the second period alone, he stopped 13 of 13 shots on goal.

In the first three rounds of the shootout, neither Mann nor Rybar blinked, keeping the count at 0-0. But then Boston Bruins alum Peter Cehlarik beat Mann in the fourth round. Miele fired the final shot for USA but failed to score.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s over,” Miele said. “I’ve enjoyed my time. Just blessed to be here, blessed to have had this opportunity and lead this team; they’re a great group and just trying to enjoy the time we have left here.”

The game was outstanding, said Slovak Marek Hrivik, whose late goal forced extra time.

“It was a great game. It was probably one of the best I’ve played so far in my career,” Hrivik said. “It was intense, it was a battle, we know what a good team they have, how hard they fight on the ice, so we tried to match that and we just tried to do that and it worked.”

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