The U.S. men's hockey team lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to Slovakia in the shootout Wednesday at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, Team USA captured gold and silver in the men's freeski slopestyle, as Alex Hall and Nick Goepper were 1-2 in the event.
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USA men's hockey stunned, eliminated
Slovakia stunned Team USA in their Olympic men's ice hockey quarterfinal 3-2, tying the game in the final minute of regulation and then eliminating the tournament's top seed in the shootout Wednesday in Beijing. Former Boston Bruins winger Peter Cehlarik scored the lone goal of the shootout on Slovakia's fourth attempt, beating U.S. goalie Strauss Mann (34 saves).
The U.S. was unsuccessful on all five shots against Slovakia goalie Patrik Rybar (33 saves), including the final attempt by captain Andy Miele. The U.S. team leaves Beijing without a medal, making this three straight Olympics without one. Its last Winter Games hardware was the silver medal it won in Vancouver in 2010. Team USA hasn't won gold since its "Miracle on Ice" title in 1980.
While Team USA fans were mourning the upset, the mood in ice rinks around Slovakia was understandably celebratory. Miroslav Šatan, president of the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation, shared a video that perfectly encapsulated the energy.
While we had our olympic shootout vs USA in China..this is how early morning practice looked like in many small arenas in Slovakia..🤷🏻♂️🤣🤣🤜🏻🤛🏻👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/Hipex9Yegv— Miroslav Šatan (@miro81s) February 16, 2022
What went wrong for Team USA?
When the NHL opted out of the Winter Olympics, USA Hockey opted to bring a roster of mostly NCAA players to Beijing. For three games, it looked brilliant: The team finished first overall after group play (3-0-0), including a win over rival Canada, and had the best goal differential (plus-11) in the tournament. But that inexperience really caught up to the Americans in their stunning quarterfinal shootout loss to Slovakia, an 8-seed the Americans really should have put away.
After Sam Hentges' goal gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead in the second period, the Americans had 6 minutes and 38 seconds of power-play time that they squandered before Slovakia tied the game with less than a minute left in the third period. That included 58 seconds of 5-on-3 power-play time in the third period and another power play with less than five minutes remaining in the game. It was as if Slovakia was sticking its chin out, awaiting a knockout blow that never arrived.
Instead, Marek Hrivik scored with 44 seconds left in regulation, after Slovakia pulled Rybar, to tie the game. Cehlarik scored the lone goal in the shootout, and Rybar (33 saves) did the rest to eliminate the Americans.
There are other lingering questions from the loss. What if Brian O'Neill, a top-line forward and the only returning player from the 2018 Olympics, hadn't injured his foot on a blocked shot and left the game after just 9:16 of ice time? What if puck-moving defenseman Jake Sanderson, so solid in Team USA's win over Canada, had been available for that 3-on-3 overtime? Why on earth did coach David Quinn leave the brilliant Matty Beniers, his best player in overtime, on the bench for five shootout attempts?
In the end, those Miracle on Ice comparisons this U.S. team was getting were applicable -- in the sense that a scrappy underdog pulled a shocker against a top-seeded team. -- Greg Wyshynski
Hamelin goes out on top
Canada's Charles Hamelin brought down the curtain on his short track speedskating career with a gold medal in the men's 5,000-meter relay Wednesday.
Canada's team of Hamelin, Steven Dubois, Jordan Pierre-Gilles and Pascal Dion finished in 6:41.257, edging South Korea by 0.422 seconds, while Italy took bronze.
The victory gives Hamelin six Olympic medals in his career on the ice. The win at the Capital Indoor Stadium saw him draw level with Cindy Klassen as Canada's most decorated Winter Olympian.
In a thrilling final, Canada led for much of the race as China crashed out to finish eight seconds off the pace. -- Tom Hamilton
Freeskiers Hall and Goepper win gold and silver
American freeskiers Hall and Goepper took gold and silver, respectively, in freeski slopestyle Wednesday morning, the best finish for Team USA since Goepper was one-third of a U.S. sweep of the event in the 2014 Sochi Games.
"This is amazing," Hall said after the event as he and Goepper celebrated at the bottom of the course, draped in American flags.
Hall won the contest on his first run, which included arguably the most difficult and unique skill of the day: a pull-back 900, a trick in which Hall launched a double cork 1080 but stopped the spin early and pulled the rotation back to a 900 before landing. For his part, Goepper was the only rider to use the side takeoff on his second jump, a right double cork 1440. With his win, Hall earned the first U.S. gold medal in freeskiing in Beijing, while Goepper earned his third slopestyle medal in as many Games, and his second silver. Goepper is the only three-time medalist in the event. Jesper Tjader of Norway took bronze. -- Alyssa Roenigk
U.S. women, men fall in curling
The U.S. lost a nail-biting 7-6 contest against Canada in women's curling, but not before putting up a fight.
After being down 4-1, the U.S. made a comeback, tying the game at 6 entering the 10th end, before Canada eked out a win by one point. Canada's Jennifer Jones executed a perfect 8-footer with her last rock draw for the win. The loss puts the U.S. women's record at 4-4. With a playoff position still attainable, they play Japan next.
The U.S. men are in a very similar situation. They fell to Italy 10-4 earlier in the day but are still in a position to make the playoffs. Tied for fourth place with the Russian Olympic Committee, the U.S. takes on Denmark next in a must-win situation. If the Americans do win, they'll have a 5-5 record in Beijing, the same record that took them to the playoffs at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. After the win, they would have to play the waiting game to see whether they make the playoffs, based on the performances of the nine other teams. -- Aishwarya Kumar
Marino withdraws from competition in logo dispute
A week after taking silver in snowboard slopestyle at the Beijing Olympics, U.S. snowboarder Julia Marino withdrew from Monday's big air qualifier. On Tuesday on Instagram, Marino revealed why, writing that the International Olympic Committee had requested she cover the Prada logo on the base of her board or be disqualified from the event.