BEIJING – Strauss Mann (Greenwich, Conn.) stopped 34 shots, and Nick Abruzzese (Slate Hill, N.Y.) and Sam Hentges (New Brighton, Minn.) each scored for Team USA, but Slovakia got the lone goal of the shootout to gain a 3-2 victory n quarterfinal play here today at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
The U.S. finished 3-0-1-0 in the Olympic Tournament and fifth overall.
“I could not be prouder of this group and the way they came together and represented our country,” said David Quinn, head coach of the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. “Losing the game is a tough pill to swallow, but when you get to the quarterfinals of the Olympics there are a lot of good teams and certainly credit Slovakia. This was a terrific group of players and they’ll always be Olympians.”
The U.S. pushed early, outshooting Slovakia, 5-1, in the opening five minutes. Kenny Agostino (Flanders, N.J.) found Brian O’Neill (Yardley, Pa.) for a shot attempt :26 into the game that was stopped by the pad of Slovakian netminder Patrik Rybar. Abruzzese followed up with a one-time attempt forty seconds later, but game remained scoreless.
Slovakia opened the scoring 11:45 into the period as the U.S. neared the end of a long shift. A disjointed scramble allowed Juraj Slafkovsky an open look in the slot. Matt Knies (Phoenix, Ariz.) looked to get the U.S. back on the board quickly two minutes later, jamming at a loose puck in the crease, but was denied. With :46 remaining in the period, Agostino carried the puck into the zone at the end of his shift, waiting for the U.S. rush to join him. He peeled back to find a streaking Steve Kampfer (Jackson, Mich.). Abruzzese received the puck quickly from Matty Beniers (Hingham, Mass.), who pulled the puck to his backhand and scored five-hole, completing a tic-tac-toe pass and tying the game.
Mann was tested early in the second period, but he was able to slow the Slovakian attacked 2:30 into the period with a crucial glove save. Hentges gave the U.S. a 2-1 advantage as he skated into the zone and dished the puck to Nathan Smith (Hudson, Fla.). Smith delivered a pass to Nick Perbix (Elk River, Minn.), who returned it back to Hentges in front of the net, paused and was rewarded for his patience with his first of the tournament at 8:56.
Hentges carried the momentum late into the period, and found O’Neill as he attacked the nearside of the net, getting a shot off and followed up his own rebound, but Rybar stopped the attempts. In the final :59, the U.S. was awarded the first power play of the game on a delay of game whistle. Beniers drove into the zone on the advantage as the final seconds ticked away, and a loose puck found Perbix who took a hard one-time shot, but was denied as time expired.
Brendan Brisson (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) nearly got the U.S. offense going in the third period, with a behind the net no-look pass, and then found himself with the puck and attempted to outwait Rybar, but was stopped 2:51 into the frame. The U.S. had a 5-on-3 power play opportunity for 1:23, but was unable to score. Halfway through the third, Beniers found himself open in the slot as he fired a wrist shot, but the puck hit off the inside of the post and bounced back out into play.
With 1:33 remaining in the third period, Slovakia pulled its netminder for a 6-on-5 advantage with a faceoff in their own end and scored with 43.7 seconds remaining to tie the game and force a 10-minute, 3-on-3 overtime period.
Mann stepped up early in the extra session, moving across his crease to shut down a partial Slovakian breakaway. Beniers began pushing the U.S. offense, first on a 2-on-1 opportunity and then by skating through the Slovakian defense, but was unable to get a shot off. Faber was forced to make a desperation block on a Slovakian 2-on-1 rush, which gave Beniers another opportunity to skate through the defense, shooting on his backhand. In the dying seconds of the extra period, Knies found the puck on his stick with a turnover at the Slovakian blue line, but was hauled down and unable to finish the breakaway with a shot on net.
The U.S. and Slovakia settled the game in a best-of-five shootout. Team USA was unable to put the puck past Rybar in five attempts, and Slovakia took the game thanks to a fourth-round goal, winning the shootout 1-0.
NOTES: The U.S. was outshot 36-35 and went 0-for-4 on the power play … Slovakia did not have a power play attempt in the contest ... The U.S. did not lose a game in regulation in the Olympic Tournament and went 3-0-0-1.