- Team USA are out of the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
- David Quinn’s men failed to make a single shot in a shootout, losing to minnows Slovakia.
- The team has no NHL stars after the league pulled its players from the games.
Team USA was knocked out of the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Beijing Winter Olympics after suffering a huge upset at the hands of Slovakia in the quarterfinals.
Coach David Quinn’s team had led the tie 2-1 going into the final minute of regulation time, however Slovakia levelled through Marek Hrivik to force overtime.
After no goals in overtime, the game went to a shootout, where the US was unsuccessful on all five shots. The only goal came from Slovakia’s former Boston Bruins winger Peter Cehlarik, sealing victory for the European nation of five million people.
“I believed in it,” Cehlarik said after the match. “I believe in this team.”
The defeat now means the US men’s hockey has now failed to win a medal in each of the last three Winter Olympics, with its last being a silver at Vancouver in 2010.
The team hasn’t won the event since the “Miracle on Ice” of 1980, when the US defeated the Soviet Union to take gold.
Heading into Beijing, Team USA was the odds on favourite to win the men’s hockey tournament. However, when the NHL decided to pull its players from the games in December, Quinn was forced to take the country’s youngest team in decades, comprising mostly college players.
Quinn’s young team, however, sparkled in the group stages, winning all three of its matches against Canada, Germany, and China, the latter which it thrashed 8-0.
But against Slovakia, the team’s inexperience showed as it failed to make use of its power plays, eventually being punished by the underdog.
“We get the 5-on-3 and, really, that was the game-changer,” Quinn said. “When you’ve got a 5-on-3 in that scenario and you don’t capitalize on it, you’re giving that other team a lot of hope, and they capitalized.”
He added: “It’s a tough pill to swallow, it really is, just losing in any fashion. No disrespect to Slovakia or anybody; we just felt so good about the direction of our team and the way we were playing.”
Slovakia face Finland in the semifinals on Friday for its first shot at a medal since 2010.
“It’s amazing that it’s happening,” said 17-year-old Slovakian Juraj Slafkovsky. “I can’t wait to play in the semifinals.”