Men's Olympic hockey roundup: U.S. eliminated in quarter-finals
Americans fall to Czech Republic in shootout; OAR sweeps aside Norway
By The Associated Press
Pavel Francouz stopped all five shooters and Petr Koukal scored the shootout winner as the Czech Republic eliminated the United States men's hockey team with a 3-2 victory in the quarter-finals at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Wednesday.
Jan Kovar and Tomas Kundratek scored in regulation for the Czech Republic, which was fresher after winning its group and getting a bye into the quarter-finals. The U.S. looked fatigued after facing Slovakia in the qualification round and was outshot 29-20.
Ryan Donato and Jim Slater scored for the U.S, which again was led by its youngest players, including speedster Troy Terry. U.S. goaltender Ryan Zapolski allowed three goals on 29 shots and one in the shootout. The Czech Republic's PavelFrancouz stopped 18 in regulation and overtime.
Koukal was the only player to score in overtime. Chris Bourque, Ryan Donato, Marc Arcobello, Terry and Bobby Butler couldn't solve Francouz.
Francouz did his best impression of legendary countryman Dominik Hasek, though Donato seemed to have him beat, but lost the puck. Gone by a matter of inches was a chance to knot the shootout at 1-all, and now the Americans will head home while the Czechs get a semifinal game against the powerhouse Russians who later defeated Norway.
"It always comes down to the smallest plays and I think at the end of the day you've got to be able to capitalize on those plays to win a game," said Donato, who scored his fifth goal of the tournament in regulation. "It didn't go the way I wanted it to and we wanted it to, but it comes down to those things."
The teams traded chances in the third period, none better than American Brian O'Neill clanking a shot off the cross bar with just under three minutes left on an odd-man rush. The U.S. got a power play at the end of regulation and into overtime but never got a shot on net.
Russia charges to early lead
The Russian men's hockey team swept aside Norway 6-1 to set up a semifinal against the Czech Republic.
Russia charged to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period, outshooting Norway 19-2, and remained in control throughout the game as chants of "Red Machine" and "Russia" echoed around the half-empty arena.
Nikita Gusev finished with a goal and two assists, while Slava Voynov had a goal and an assist.
After the disappointment of losing in the quarter-finals at home in Sochi four years ago, the "Olympic Athletes from Russia" — as they're called due to International Olympic Committee sanctions over doping — are now guaranteed to play for a medal.
"We are a very hungry group of guys," Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. "Next game will be the biggest one."
No Russian hockey team has won a medal since 2002.
"Our dream's still on," Russian captain Pavel Datysuk said. "We are in a tournament where we are the top favourite, but we need to improve."