United States of America men's hockey melts down in stunning Olympic-opening loss to Slovenia

Doug Mendoza
February 14, 2018

Team USA led 2-0 in the third period when Slovenia rallied to create a tense finish.

Slovenia woke up in the third and dominated the first six minutes, leading to a Blaz Gregorc goal that cut the lead in half.

One of the new things players on either side of the border war agree on is that the rivalry brings out the best with both teams.

But it was a day for Mursak and Slovenia.

With captain Brian Gionta off for tripping, the USA got a couple of scares when Slovenia hit the post early on the power play and then nearly scored moments later.

The Olympic athletes from Russian Federation team also suffered a surprise opening defeat as Slovakia's Peter Ceresnak scored the decisive goal in their 3-2 win. Brian O'Neill and Bobby Sanguinetti were credited with the assists on Greenway's goal.

Zapolski got out of position after lunging to his left on a save.

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Although Canada has gotten the best of the United States on the Olympic stage, the Americans have won each of the last three World Championships, with the last two victories coming in overtime.

The U.S. defenseman Matt Gilroy blocked an initial pass from Rok Ticar to Mursak. After the US reached double-digits in number of shots taken, Brian O'Neill, a 29-year-old who plays in Finland, scored first for Team USA with just more than two minutes left in the first period.

Bobby Sanguinetti reacts after Slovenia scores the game-tying goal against the United States at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on February 14, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. "It's a good team, I'll give them credit".

Slovenia captain Jan Mursak, a former draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, scored that tying goal.

After the 2012 lockout, preparing for a shot at a full season with the Wings, Mursak broke his collarbone. A part of Yugoslavia until 1991, Slovenia did not qualify for an Olympic ice hockey tournament until 2014 but finished a respectable seventh in Sochi.

In the absence of the NHL, which chose not to send players to Pyeongchang, the US men's national team is comprised of outcasts.

The United States continues preliminary round play against Slovakia at 10:10 Eastern Thursday.

Other reports by GizPress

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