Team USA was eliminated Wednesday in South Korea.
After a lightning-quick turnaround from their last match-up, which finished less than 24 hours before, Team USA faced a well-rested Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.
Harvard junior and Bruin’s draft-pick Ryan Donato connected on a wrist shot for the opening goal of the game to give Team USA a 1-0 lead 6:20 into the first period. Czech defenseman Jan Kolář converted a slap-shot as time expired to tie up the game at a goal a piece entering the second period.
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Halfway through the middle period, the Czechs struck again. This time it was the former Washington Capital and current KHL defenseman Tomáš Kundrátek with another slap-shot past Team USA net-minder Ryan Zapolski.
Ten-year NHL veteran and current Swiss National League player Jim Slater returned fire. Slater put home a short-handed goal to tie the game up once again. This would turn out to be the final regulation score from either side. Team USA failed to convert on a timely third-period power play, and both sides would have a fruitless final stanza.
The game went to overtime, and still no dice for either country. So, on to the five-frame shoot-out for a chance to move on to the semi-finals.
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Zapolski did his part in the shoot-out. He stopped four attempts and only allowed a single goal. Team USA was unable to capitalize on any of their shots and fell to the Czech Republic 3-2.
The remaining semi-finalists left in the Olympics pursuing a gold medal are the Czech Republic, Canada, Germany and The Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR).
The OAR are the heavy favorites to take home the gold. Their team features top-flight talent like Detroit Red Wings great Pavel Datsyuk and two-time NHL All-Star Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk famously signed a 15-year, $100 million contract with the New Jersey Devils, only to leave the NHL to play back in Russia three years in.
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While Team USA typically performs at a higher level in hockey, the NHL’s decision to continue play during the Olympics hampered the team’s talent level. This early exit may put pressure on the NHL to allow their players to participate next time around in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Games.